A magistrate is a profession that has carried over from medieval times into modern times. A magistrate was a sort of local law official who held some of the powers of a judge. They would generally hear more minor cases and preliminary hearings. Magistrates were needed to keep order amongst people on a smaller, more local scale. During times in which a “jury” was available, if the “defendant” refused or waived for their hearing to be heard by their peers, then the magistrate was the sort of judge who would hear the case. These upper middle-class men would be assumed to hear the cases of the people of their town, listen to “lawsuits,” and try to keep the peace between the lower levels of the courts.
The magistrate is not described in the prologue. He is briefly described in the Franklin’s Tale, but his physical appearance is not discussed. From his personality’s description and how he talks about the magistrate’s mannerisms I could infer that his way of holding himself would be described as self-important and proud.
Chaucer's Opinions and Viewpoint:Edit
Chaucer mocks most characters in The Canterbury Tales: at the end of The Franklin’s Tale Chaucer calls him a “pompous little Magistrate.” This shows that Chaucer is somewhat disgusted with the behaviors and mannerisms of the magistrate. Pompous describes someone as irritatingly grand or self-important; Chaucer emphasizes this opinion in a later line in which he states “. . . knowing how he hated having actually to do anything himself.” When Chaucer states “don’t blink or you’ll miss it,” in reference to the Magistrate’s Tale, he is saying that it is short and brief (as it is not worth the time to tell in the viewpoint of the Magistrate).
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