1 Two stories that serve as excellent demonstrations of irony are "The Pardoners Tale" and " The Nun's Priest's Tale," both from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.
A complete review of the Merchant's Tale (from the Canterbury Tales) -- covering an overview of the story, the character of the merchant himself, wording, Chaucer's use of sarcasm, and the Tale's religious implications as well.
Spirituality in the Second Nun's Tale In the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer describes the men and women of the Church in extreme forms; most of these holy pilgrims, such as the Monk, the Friar, and Pardoner, are caricatures of objectionable parts of Catholic society. At a time when the power-hungry Catholic Church used the misery of peasants in order to obtain wealth, it is no wonder that one of the greatest writers of the Middle Ages used his works to comment on the religious politics of the day. Yet not all of Chaucer's religious characters are failures in spirituality....
Characters: a huge cast, including Lucifer, Adam, Sampson,Hercules, Nabugodonosor (Nebuchadnezzar from Daniel 1-5), Balthasar (Belshazzar fromDaniel 1-5), Cenobia (Zenobia from Boccaccio), King Pedro of Castile, King Pedro ofCyprus, Bernabo Visconti, Ugolino of Pisa, Nero, Holofernes (the Vulgate Judith,considered apocryphal in later versions), Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Croesus, andthe Knight who interrupts the Monk before another hundred or so of these dreary tales aretold (whew!).
The Knight stops the Monk from continuing since he can no longer bear the dismal tales of woe and sorrow. He says that it is more gratifying to hear a tale about the rise in fortune of a poor man. The Host heartily agrees with the Knights interruption and asks the Monk to tell something else. He adds that the Monks Tale was so boring that he would have long ago fallen asleep were it not for the jingling of his bridle bells. He asks the Monk to tell a story about hunting instead. But the Monk is in no mood to indulge in frivolities and says that somebody else should tell a story. The Host then asks the Nun's Priest to tell a pleasant tale.
If you are citing The Canterbury Tales from The Riverside Chaucer, you may replace the name of the tale with the fragment number. Hence you may cite line 1 of the Knight's Tale as "(Knight's Tale, 1)" or as "(I.859)" (that is, line 859 of Fragment I).
Frank Hardy Long. "Seeing the Prioress Whole." Chaucer Review 25 (1991): 229-237.
Friedman Albert B. "The Prioress's Tale and Chaucer's Anti-Semitism." Chaucer Review 9 (1974): 118-129.
Ridley Florence H. The Prioress and the Critics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965.
Bloomfield Morton W. "The Gloomy Chaucer." Veins of Humor Ed. Harry Levin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ Press, 1972, 57-68.
Brewer Derek S. "The International Medieval Popular Comic Tale in England." The Popular Literature of Medieval England. Ed. Thomas J. Heffernan. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1985, 131-147.
Chaucer Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Trans. Nevell Coghill. Baltimore, MD: Penguin, 1952.
Jost, Jean E., ed. Chaucer's Humor: Critical Essays. London, 1994
The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Ed. James Winny. Cambridge University Press. 1965.
Garbaty, Thomas J. "Wynkyn de Worde's 'Sir Topas' and Other Tales." Studies in... Chaucer's Canterbury Tales." PhD. University of Sheffield, 1997