Chaunticleer: Behind the Rooster


In the book Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer, gives us
a stunning tale about a rooster named Chaunticleer.
Chaunticleer is the King of his domain in his farmland
kingdom. Like a King, he quotes passages from
intellectuals, dreams vivid dreams, has a libido that runs
like a bat out of hell, and is described as a very elegant
looking Rooster. He has every characteristic of a person
belonging to the upper class. Chaucer's hidden meanings and
ideas make us think that the story is about roosters and
farm animals, but in reality he is making the Aristocracy
of his time period the subject of his mockery by making the
reader realize how clueless the Aristocracy can be to the
way things are in the real World.
Chaucer describes Chaunticleer in many different ways. One
of them is his language. Chaunticleer's language is that of
a scholar. He quotes many different scriptures in a
conversation with Pertelote, such as, Saint Kenelm, Daniel
and Joseph (from the bible), and Croesus. From each author
he tells a story about an individual who had a vision in a
dream and the dream came true. He may have been making all
the stories up in order to win the argument with Pertelote,
but, this seems unlikely because he does not take heed to
his own advice and stay away from the fox that encounters
him later. He is educated enough to know these supposed
quotations but not intelligent enough to understand the
real meaning of them. It is if he simply brings because
they help him win the argument with his spouse and not
because he actually believes what they say. Chaucer is
using the idea that the Aristocracy has schooling
throughout their childhood, but it is only done to have
seemingly important but empty conversations.
His physical appearance is also described with such
beautiful passion that it makes us think Chaunticleer is
heaven on earth. "His comb was redder than fine coral, and
crenellated like a castle wall; his bill was black and
shone like jet; his legs and toes were like azure; his
nails whiter than lily; and his color like the burnished
gold." Chaucer describes Chaunticleer as the quintessential
Cock, so perfect that his description is no longer
believable when we realize he is describing a Rooster.
Chaucer is setting up Chaunticleer to be as regal and
grandiose as a King. Even though he looks like a million
dollars he is still very shallow inside. He lies to his
spouse just to keep her happy and his every thought is of
fornication. Like the Aristocracy he takes many pleasures
of the flesh with no real commitment to his duty as a

Chaunticleer's character appears to be that of a shallow
used car salesman. He lies to his spouse about his opinion
of women just so he can ride her later in the morning.
"Mulier est hominis confusio; Madame, the meaning of this
Latin is, 'Woman is man's joy and all his bliss.'" The real
meaning is " Woman is man's ruin". He tells her a lie to
ensure he gets what he wants from her later. He seems like
the type of person who would say anything to get what they
want no matter the truth or whom it hurts. He also falls
victim to his own hubris, something that is not uncommon to
most rich arrogant people. 

Chaucer's creation of Chaunticleer is done solely to
imitate and mock the upper class. Chaunticleer is educated,
like people in the upper class; looks good, as people with
money can afford to do; and revolves around the pleasures
of the flesh like a pre-pubescent child. Had he not been
"riding" Pertelote all morning he might have seen the fox
coming and been able to avoid becoming captured. His
attitude was that of the upper class, that he is too good
to worry about life's little trivial matters and that he
loves to have pleasure. The fox is able to dupe him simply
by flattering his voice. "... the reason I came was only to
hear how you sing.". He is so consumed with living in his
own grandiose twisted reality, where nothing bad happens,
that he does not realize that a fox is about to gobble him
up! He does have an epiphany at the end, however, "No more
through your flattery get me to close my eyes and sing. For
he who knowingly blinks when he should see, God let him
never thrive." Chaucer uses the character Chaunticleer to
poke fun at the Aristocracy and all their tendencies
towards living life in the name of "consummate pleasure
seekers," and not in the name of "reality driven people".

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