Essay on Chaucer's View on the Church in The Canterbury Tales

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Chaucer's View on the Church in The Canterbury Tales

By analyzing “The Canterbury Tales”, one can conclude that Chaucer did see the merits of the church, but by no means regarded it in a wholly positive light. Whereas some of the clergy are viewed as devout and God-fearing, others are viewed as con- men and charlatans. One can even venture to say that Chaucer was using this story as somewhat of a criticism of the church, showing the flaws of its leaders and the greed that permeated it at the time. The Prioress is portrayed as a simple, gracious, and charitable woman. The author does seem to hold a sympathetic view towards her, as he makes a point of extolling her virtues and neglecting to mention any of her
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Both the Pardoner and the Friar are portrayed as quick-thinking charlatans. Chaucer does seem to admire the Pardoner’s skill, and skilled he is, but his actions do not befit a man of the cloth. The Pardoner is spoken of as using bogus relics to con “poor up-country parsons” out of their hard-earned cash. These small hustles netted him “more in a day than the parson in a month or two”. When choosing his occupation, I’m sure the Pardoner did not see the light of the lord but rather, dollar signs. Chaucer goes on to say that yes, the pardoner did preach rather well and his stories were quite splendid, however that might be on account that he could “win money from the crowd”. The Friar’s character is another materialistic shyster, who gives easy penances in exchange for bribes. He spent these earnings on finery for himself, and “pocket-knives for the pretty girls”, leading one to wonder whether he was keeping his vows of chastity. Whereas a true priest would follow Jesus' teaching to tend to the lowest of his sheep, the friar did not wish to be bothered with the lepers and beggars. (Although he did on occasion, beg to supplement his own income!) The friar spent his time drinking in the taverns, socializing with the barmaids and innkeepers. Overall, he is portrayed as a greedy, gluttonous
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