Consider Arnold's views on Geoffrey Chaucer?
Matthew Arnold tries to justify Geoffrey Chaucer and his poetical achievements in "The Study of Poetry". He refers to Chaucer and seeks to establish a real estimate of his poetry. He says that the poetical importance of Chaucer does not need the assistance of the historic estimate. In his opinion, Chaucer is a genuine source of joy. Arnold admits that the language of Chaucer is a cause of difficulty for us. But he believes that it is a difficulty to be unhesitatingly accepted and overcome. He declares that Chaucer is not a pure classic because he fails to display high seriousness in his works. It is true that Chaucer's writings have a high criticism of life. They bear poetic truth too. But he fails to maintain high seriousness in his poetry. Arnold regards Chaucer as an excellent poet. But he never recommends him as a great classic.Arnold says that Chaucer was more advanced than his time. At the time of Chaucer, French romance poetry was most influential. The writer of twelfth and thirteenth centuries were influenced by the French romance poetry. But Chaucer's poetry is better than French romance poetry. His poetry shows the originality of English poetry. For this reason, Chaucer can be called the creator of English poetic tradition. He is actually the father of our splendid English poetry. He is the founder of a new tradition. On the other hand, his poetry is full of pleasure, joy and happiness. He depicts his age in an objective humorous manner. This kind of representation of life is an excellent quality of an excellent writer. Arnold praises Chaucer for the above qualities.According to Arnold, Chaucer's poetry is true to life. He depicts everything from a humane point of view. As a result, we have seen a simple, clear and kindly view of human life in the poetry of Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer is praised by Arnold and Dryden because it includes most of the factors and matters of thirteenth century English life. Arnold believes that Chaucer is a true upholder of life. There is no false description of life in Chaucer's narration. As a result, high criticism of life is available in the poetry of Chaucer. Chaucer has the capacity to make a criticism of human life in his writing. This quality of Chaucer is praised by Arnold.Arnold says that Chaucer shows his excellence in his writing style. Chaucer shows a high divine liquidness in his poetic diction. As a result, his writings are not motionless. The readers never feel monotony when they go through the poetry of Chaucer. This speedy narrative technique is invented by Chaucer. Many giants of English literature like Shakespeare, Milton and Keats have followed it. For this reason, Chaucer is greatly hailed by Arnold.Arnold thinks that many quotations of Chaucer have become well-known and they attract the attention of the critics. He applies his touchstone method to justify the merits of Chaucer. He compares Chaucer with Dante. His comparative study shows that Chaucer does not have the quality of high seriousness like Dante, Homer, Shakespeare and Milton. Chaucer fails to present high seriousness in his writing. This lacking excludes Chaucer from the group of the classics.High seriousness is the basic essence of any authentic poetry. The true success of poetry lies in its high seriousness. No poetry can achieve success without high seriousness. A poet can apply his ideas in his poems. But his application will fail if there is no seriousness. High seriousness is the product of poetic truth and poetic beauty. It will come out for the catalectic influence of poetic truth and poetic beauty. It is the chief aim of poetry. Chaucer cannot be a classic because he does not show the signs of high seriousness in his poetry. Arnold believes that Chaucer does not display any standard morality in his works. He is aware of the moral purpose of poetry. He thinks that morality is the guiding force of poetry. But Chaucer fails to maintain it in his writings.At last, we may add that Chaucer is the representative poet of his age. His position in English literature is for the father. His contribution to English poetry and language is undeniable. Matthew Arnold has tried to evaluate this great poet as his own. He criticises Chaucer for the want of high seriousness in his poetry. But he never criticises the wit and humour of Chaucer. He thinks that wit and humour show the depth of his imagination. These qualities bring a pleasing motion in his poetry diction. Arnold highlights many good qualities in the poems of Chaucer. He finds largeness, freedom and poetic liquidity in Chaucer.