Chaucer’s individualizing the speakers of poems like To Rosemounde and Merciles Beaute was his means of presenting concrete situations in his love poems, rather than general, conventional sentiments. He could thereby examine the worth of the abstract concept of courtly love, for instance, when it was put into the mouth of a specific, “real-life” human being. Chaucer’s interest in the individual flesh-and-blood human rather than in the abstraction—an interest which paralleled the nominalist emphasis upon the knowledge of the particular as opposed to the universal—was what led to the poet’s creation of concrete characters, rather than abstract “everyman” figures, who would speak his lyric verses. Ultimately this same impetus probably led to the creation of the highly individualized figures of his General Prologue. Most of these individualized pilgrims (the Miller, the Pardoner, the Friar) are vicious, but the narrator refrains from condemnation. After all, human cognition is uncertain, and human interpretation of experience subject to question—in his short poems Chaucer had made this point in the Envoy to Bukton, and we will see it again in The Complaint of Mars and in Anelida and Arcite. But this does not mean that Chaucer did not believe in ultimate truth, and for the purpose of contrast he provides the audience of the General Prologue with certain ideal portraits, more abstract and less individualized than the others. These figures (the Knight, the Parson, the Plowman), whose relationship with God and their fellow men is in accordance with the natural law of divine love, follow the truth of divine revelation, the one path to truth which is reliable. But it is the reader who must weigh the ideal against the actual, and judge accordingly. In the sublunary world, the ability of human beings to interpret correctly, and so the ability of the narrator to read his own text correctly, is questionable. This same pattern works in the shorter poems to be dealt with in this chapter.