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Clerk & Squire Contrast “The Canterbury Tales” sample essay

In Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” two young men of the Middle Ages, stand in sharp contrast to each other. The clerk and the squire are of similar ages but are very different. The clerk is a member of the middle class, has attended Oxford and studied Aristotle, while the squire, a member of the upper class, has been educated in the arts of chivalry.

In appearance wise the clerk is a “grave” or somber individual. He is thin “hollow-cheeked” and dresses poorly (“outer cloak threadbare”). On the other hand the squire is a bright, cheerful person. He is lusty, strong and nimble and dresses extravagantly “red and white embroidery; short coat with long wide sleeves.” His facial appearance is similar to his dress habits, his hair is curled and he is very handsome.

The two differ in personality as well. The clerk is formal and modest when he speaks and he only speaks (gives his input) if it is needed. He is also considerate of others, “pray diligently for the souls of them that gave him wherewith to stay at the schools” and his speech is of moral virtue. The royalty of the squire was apparent in his personality. He is courteous, modest and helpful to others. His royal roots show that he is a respectable man and in his youthful state, he is full of energy.

Finally, we can see that the two have very different interests. The clerk is interested in lectures on logic, reading Aristotle and studying Philosophy. He also loves to learn and teach and convey his knowledge to others. The squire is engulfed with the many campaigns/battles of the country and loves jousting in his spare time. He also enjoys singing, playing the flute, riding horses, making songs, dancing drawing and writing. The squire’s royalty shows through his interests because the middle class would not have the time or resources to commit to these interests.

The portrait of the clerk and the squire in “The Canterbury Tales” shows two men of similar age; in the same time frame, “The Middle Ages”. We learn that the two are very different in appearance, personality and interests. This can be attributed to the fact that they grew up in different classes. The clerk in the “Middle Class” and the squire in the “High Class”, in this time frame classes molded how an individual grew and learned. Chaucer shows in his novel how two individuals can be the same in some ways but very different in others.

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