To examine how a writer treats a particular topic or subject-matter is often to arrive at a fresh appreciation of his quality. So it is with Chaucer’s treatment of children. He is notable among English writers of any period before the nineteenth century for the affectionate love and pity, sometimes verging on sentimentality, with which he presents babies and children. He brings them into his poetry more frequently than any other writer within several centuries of him. Nothing more clearly shows that despite his reputation as a cynical joker (which of course he is), an even more dominant characteristic is his tender pity. Considering too the normal attitude to children of his time, which he largely shares, the amount he writes about children, usually of his own invention, is another reminder of his combination of the intensely conventional and the unaffectedly independent.
KeywordsFourteenth Century English Writer Chief Interest Canterbury Tale Sexual Joke
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- 2.See Derek Brewer, Chaucer, 3rd edn (London, 1973) p. 79.Google Scholar