Inquiry II Final

Inquiry II Final - Brockmiller 1 Lauren Brockmiller ENG 112...

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Brockmiller 1 Lauren Brockmiller ENG 112 Evelyn Brown 4/25/11 Exposing Our Social Class While one is reading a piece of work from a certain time period, it is useful to know the lifestyle and history of the author. Exploring the way different characters in different standings in the social class use their words is something that can be very useful in determining what experiences the author has had. Walter S. Phelan says that “Language is a cosmos; it encircles, contains and orders a totality of experience for a nation or group or for an individual” (1978). Geoffrey Chaucer’s writing and descriptive tactics are an excellent example of this philosophy. Chaucer’s language creates a contrast between two characters that, right away, lets readers tap in to the experiences Chaucer has had throughout his life. The second story told in The Canterbury Tales , the Miller’s Tale, is very different from the previous story, told by the Knight. The Knight’s Tale is a noble one and is one that is to be expected from someone of his social standing and education. He tells his story, using descriptions that keep everything to the minimum. He keeps everything on a “need to know” basis. He knows how to phrase his thoughts using the least amount of words possible, again proving that he is educated. Someone without such a high social standing or education would not know how to word their sentences and thoughts in such a way that lets the reader know exactly what he’s trying to say right away. In contrast, the Miller oversteps his boundaries and, drunkenly interrupts the narrator, saying that he has a story that will be better than the Knight’s or at least one that will compare to
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Brockmiller 2 it. He reveals his lower social class to the reader by the words he uses to describe things and people. The Knight, on the other hand, uses carefully crafted wording to describe a love interest in the story. Only someone with a high standing and education could know to use such words as descriptive. It is important to understand the influence of such a contrast in characters. The words we use more often than not, reveal what social class we are from. For example, when people use the word “ain’t,” you can usually gather that that person is not very well educated, or does not care enough about their image to change the way he/she is speaking to someone. The modern reader can determine the same thing from the Miller’s speech, as he describes his surroundings and the people he sees. As the Miller describes Alisoun, the love interest in his story, he uses words that show his lower social class. The following passage is
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Inquiry II Final - Brockmiller 1 Lauren Brockmiller ENG 112...

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