The Social Aspirations and Priestly Pretense of Chaucer’s Reeve
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In this article, I examine Chaucer’s description of the Reeve in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, considering both his arrogant, sermonizing behavior and his clothing in light of fourteenth-century conventions of dress. I argue that the Reeve self-consciously associated himself with the clergy in order to appear as if he had higher social status and possessed more education than he actually did. As has often been noticed, the Miller—unabashedly representative of the lower class—recognized the Reeve’s pretensions and mocked him unmercifully. My conclusions shed further light on the nature of their strained relationship.
KeywordsChaucer Canterbury Tales Reeve’s Tale Reeve’s Prologue Miller’s Tale Miller’s Prologue Medieval costume
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