Chaunticleer: Behind the Rooster
In the book Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer, gives us a stunning tale about a rooster named Chaunticleer. Chaunticleer, who 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 rooster. 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 characte
r 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”.