The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer depicts the lives, personalities and social standings of people during the middle ages. Chaucer used language as a way to let the reader know what he thought about the character's education and life. One character that Chaucer plays the role as is the Squire. The squire is a handsome, young son of a knight who tries to win the heart of women. In The Squire's Tale, a chivalric romance told by an aristocrat, a mysterious knight delivers three gifts to the king of Tartary, King Cambuskan. There was a sword, a mirror, and a ring, each one having magical powers. The one talked about most in the tale is the ring, given to Cambuskan's daughter, Canace. Through the power of the ring, Canace she is able to communicate with birds and use herbs to help heal people. In many ways throughout The Squire's Tale the themes of love and the treatment of women are portrayed.
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Chaucer depicts the theme of the treatment of women in The Squire's Tale . Canace finds a falcon who is completely heartbroken. The falcon talks about a hawk who she gave her heart to just to have him leave her. With the use of a metaphor, the falcon describes how conniving the hawk was towards her, always pretending that he really loved her. And has as freely given my heart as he/ Had sworn his own was given up to me,/ Straightaway this tiger with his double heart/ Fell on his knees and played the humble part (Chaucer 403). The theme of treatment of women is further examined when the falcon explains that the hawk had left her.
Man by his nature seeks new-fangledness;
As do those birds that people keep in cages;
One cares for them day-long and one engages
To get them straw as fair and soft as milk
And gifts of sugar, honey, bread and milk
Yet on the instant that the slide is up,
The foot will spurn away from the proffered cup
And to the woods they fly for worms to eat,
Such is their longing for new-fangled meat (Chaucer 405)
The falcon is using a simile to compare men and birds. Her comparison shows that both cannot resist the temptation to go off and try something new and exciting, no matter how well their companion treats them. One day he saw a kite upon the wing/ And suddenly he felt a love so hot/ For this same kite my love was clean forgot, (Chaucer 405), she is saying that once the hawk saw something new and different, he immediately abandoned her even though he said he loved her, she had now been forgotten and replaced. The theme of the treatment of women is evident in The Squire's Tale, showing that women were disposable to men.
Canace's compassion towards the falcon throughout her story shows the theme of love. Canace had sat there listening to the injured falcon tell her story of how her lover had treated her. She felt the need to heal her and care for her until she was anew.
Canace bore her homeward in her lap;
In softest plasters she began to wrap
The falcon's wounds that her own beak had torn,
And Canace went delving eve and morn
For herbs out of the ground; new salves she made
From precious grasses of the finest shade
To heal her hawk, indeed both day and night
She lavished on her all the care she might.(Chaucer 406)
She showed loved towards this poor, heartbroken falcon and brought her home until she could be on her own. The love the Canace showed towards the falcon, let the falcon believe that she could love again, and she did.
The Squire's Tale showed examples of both themes of love and the treatment of women. Through Canace's love and compassion, the falcon has the chance to become who she once was. Canace exemplified the theme of love with the way she treated the falcon by nursing her and listening to her heartbreaking story. The theme of the treatment of women is shown throughout the story of the falcon's relationship with the hawk and how he decided she was not good enough anymore and needed something new. This tale really shows that even though there are people in the world who treat others poorly, there are also people who are willing to help, even if it is just by listening.
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