Canterbury Tales Analysis

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In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, various people band together to go on a pilgrimage from England to Canterbury. Their aim is to see a shrine of St Thomas Beckett, the revered Archbishop of Canterbury who had reportedly healed others when they were ill. The pilgrims have a variety of occupations and are divided fairly evenly amongst the three estates (clergy, nobility, and commoners). The pilgrims who are members of the clergy are ironically depicted as the least moral, compared to the nobility and the commoners, creating a negative view of those who are leaders in the Church. The members of the clergy also spend their time wandering, metaphorically demonstrating their purposelessness, while the pilgrimage itself is a direct…show more content…
However, he works hard, both for God and for his community, and he lives happily. The Plowman is also one of the most pious pilgrims. According to Chaucer, “God loved he best with al his hoole herte” (GP 533). He also gives money to the church, demonstrating both his religiousness and his charitability, which is especially notable given his own poverty. In addition to the Plowman’s religiousness, he lives a simple life, evidenced by his wearing of a tabard (a simple sleeveless shirt worn by the lower class) and the fact that he rides on a mare. Similarly to the Knight and the Squire, the Plowman is the ideal member of his estate, the peasantry.
The Friar, Prioress, Monk, and Pardonner are the members of the clergy (the first estate) on the pilgrimage. The most corrupt of these is the Friar. He has the power to give confession, and he gives it easily, because those who have repented are more likely to give him donations. The Friar wanders around and becomes wealthy because of these donations. Chaucer also says that the Friar knows all of the barmaids in town, implying that he likely goes out drinking frequently, a habit that is not Christian-like. The Prioress also doesn’t exemplify an ideal religious leader. While at first, the Prioress might appear kindhearted and moral, Chaucer adds in little descriptions to give the reader an odd impression of her. She’s so concerned with attempting to be upper class, demonstrated by her knowledge

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