Traditional social wisdom is articulated using formulas and set phrases, ‘What oft was thought’, results in a particular tone and style.
The use of proverbs and “sentences”: remarks long accepted in society for their general truth and applicability. The idea of summing up fraught situations with apt traditional phrases.
These phrases can be ironical but are not necessarily so.
“As many schools make students hard to collar,
A woman many-schooled is half a scholar.” Januarie, L. 1427-8 ("The Merchant's Tale".
The sententious style lends itself to authorial comment of the kind familiar to oral narrative and song. The story-teller comments on his story to the listening audience and his comments may be serious or comic according to the effect desired.
Proverbs are used “to enforce with th’ effect of my mateere”.
Chaucer’s style is continuously sententious throughout his work with a deeply proverbial style.
Alliteration hammers home the familiar.
Apostrophe is a form of direct address that gives the narrator’s moral attitudes and these can sometimes be ironic.
See page two for instructions for activities