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Allusion in The Canterbury Tales

Allusion Examples in The Canterbury Tales:

The Knight’s Tale


"virgin beauty slays me ..."   (The Knight’s Tale)

Here Arcita claims that the woman's beauty inflicts more pain on him than any physical wound he could endure. This is an allusion to the courtly love genera that was prevalent during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The knights's ability to be emotionally wounded by a "virgin beauty" demonstrated their ability to be internally feeling while remaining stoic against physical pain. Chaucer could be seen as mocking courtly love tropes by the hyperbolic nature of this statement.

"Herod..."   (The Miller’s Tale)

Herod the Great was a Roman statesman. He is known for leading massive building projects throughout Judea, including ports, temples, and fortresses. However, Herod is also known for the Massacre of the Innocents upon the birth of Jesus. The Miller's reference to this historical character suggests that he does not know the whole history that he alludes to and is simply trying to make references to make his story like the Knight's tale.

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