Chaucer's Use Of Satire

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W. Somerset Maugham says “Irony is a gift of the gods, the most subtle of all the modes of speech. It is an armour and a weapon; it is a philosophy and a perpetual entertainment; it is food for the hungry of wit and drink to those thirsting for laughter…” In both William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale, irony, satire and other forms of comedy are used to provide humor and entertainment. Even though these works are not defined as comedies, by adding in moments of humor through dialogue or description, Shakespeare and Chaucer create a more relatable story for their audience. Satire is a form of a humor that “shows that someone or something is foolish, weak, or bad” according…show more content…
Hamlet’s sharp wit and use of sarcasm seems highly developed, especially in the early stages of his madness. When Polonius asks, “What do you read, my lord?” (2659) Hamlet simply replies “Words, words, words.” (2659). This is an example of the most obvious moments of sarcasm throughout the entire play. In the third act, when Guildenstern confronts Hamlet after the play, he tells Hamlet that the king is very upset and Hamlet replies “With drink, sir?” (2679) even though it is obvious that the king is upset because of the contents in Hamlet’s play. These moments of Hamlet showing his wit and subtle use of sarcasm make Hamlet, The Prince of Denmark more entertaining. But, while Hamlet relies on his wit and sarcasm to provide humor, Chaucer creates a cartoon-like flow of events in The Wife of Bath’s Prologue. Towards the end of the prologue, Chaucer describes how a wife hits a man so hard that he falls but right after “He starts up like a lion who’s gone crazy,” (1889) and strikes her back. The wife pretends to be dying and when the man kneels down near her she “hit him on the cheek, and said…” (1889) that they are know even. It is easy to imagine this scene playing out in an older cartoon fashion with sound effects and over-exaggerated facial expressions. This type of comedy contrasts sharply
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