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Clothing As An Insight
Countless people believe in the cliché “do not judge a book by its cover”: but why not? Clothing often forms another’s first impression of one. It speaks of where a person has been and where they intend to go. Their appearance also illustrates a person’s true self and aspirations. A man wearing torn jeans, dingy shirt, and old shoes might be thought of as poor or coming home from a hard day's labor. However, a young woman in a Gucci dress with Versace pumps could be assumed to have access to a large amount of money. In “The Prologue from the Canterbury Tales," Chaucer uses clothing as an insight into people’s ongoing adventure called life.
In the Prologue, humbled by his life experiences, the Knight dresses plainly. Garbed in a stained coarse cotton tunic, the knight sits upon his horse. Seen in a different setting, the Knight’s attire would say little about his life as an honorable man. By humbling oneself, a true hero lends credence to the fact that flash is not always needed. His armor left dark smudges on his tunic. Humbling experiences cause humans to step back and analyze the fortune they have; they learn that they do not have to wear their achievements. Sometimes people boast their success through fine clothing. Unlike the flamboyant Yeomen, the distinguished knight wears old garments.
The Yeomen succumbs to society’s inclination that when he dresses the part he will become successful. He wears a coat with a green hood. From a low social standing, he believes that the better he looks the more successful he will become. Emphasis should be placed on one’s achievements and inner self rather than outward appearance. A saucy brace is worn on his arm to protect it from the bow. At first glance, one would assume that he was a superior archer of high standings rather then a lowly Yeomen. Looks can be deceiving, but the illusion fades as one’s true self shines through. Extravagant best describes the Yeomen’s style while plain and reserved best depicts the nun.
Chaucer illustrates how small insignificant accessories can have a deeper meaning. The Nun wore a coral trinket on her arm. While the standard habit of a nun is subdued and simple, the added touch of the coral trinket emanates her femininity. Professional attire can limit one’s expression of their true personality, however, small discreet accessories will give hint to it. She wore her gaudies beads on a shiny gold brooch. This gold brooch reveals wealth and womanly pride not usually expected of a nun. Small subtle things can get your point across as well as the obvious.
One's life expectations and desires are masqueraded though the clothing they wear. Often clothing plays a pivotal role in first impressions. How people dress give insight into the real person beneath without spoken words. Judge a person by their outward appearance, but remember that other complex and interesting layers dwell beneath the surface.
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The Canterbury Tales, Yeoman, The Knight, Clothing, Geoffrey Chaucer, The Yeomen
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