Characteristics Of Canterbury Tales

Decent Essays
In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer paints the characters of the General Prologue in a somewhat ironic light, offering cynicism and criticism as the poet through the naïve observations of his own fictional personification. One character portrait that receives Chaucer’s cynicism is that of the monk, who, on the first read-through, seems to be a jolly monk with a healthy habit of hunting, but on closer inspection is not all that he seems. In this characterization, Chaucer describes the monk as the sporting type, hunting in his free time and being somewhat lax in the strict customs of the church. Although this profile is apt for a healthy man in the late middle ages, this characterization is not appropriate for someone of the cloth, and Chaucer knows this. Monks, in popular culture and in real life, are seen as devoted to the work of God and living a life of asceticism, living their lives away from the normal social sphere and have little to no worldly possessions besides the humble clothes they wear. However, Chaucer describes this monk as having a fine horse with a saddle lined with bells, a pack of keen hunting greyhounds, and “sleves purfiled at the hond/ With grys, and that the fynest of a lond” (General Prologue 193-194). Chaucer the pilgrim seems to observe the monk’s attire as a mark of a healthy man and listens when the monk makes his excuse that he should not be holed up in a monastery and going mad over reading books. However, readers of the characterization
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