“The Man of Law’s Tale”: The Crusades Personified
Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is one of the preeminent texts of the medieval era and has long been studied for its cultural and literary significance as a reflection of the socio-economic and political conditions of the Middle Ages. Chaucer draws from the Crusades as a means to encapsulate the commonly held beliefs of his contemporaries. Not only do The Canterbury Tales serve as a mirror to reflect medieval society’s impression of the Crusades, it also serves as an opportunity for modern day readers to evaluate East/West relations. In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer masterfully transforms travel into narration. The implementation of travel narration allows Chaucer additional opportunities to make use of symbolism. The symbolisms in Chaucer’s work functions as a guide into historical foundations of the tales. In “The Man of Law’s Tale” Chaucer tells the story of an ill-fated love match between a Christian woman and a Muslim man. As the relationship progresses, Chaucer takes his audience on a multidimensional journey to Syria with Dame Custance. He makes references through her journey to the crusades as a justification to propel the anti-Islamic sentiments held within contemporary medieval culture and specifically within “The Man of Law’s Tale”.