Corruption Of The Church In The Canterbury Tales

1564 Words7 Pages
The powerful grow more powerful through the actions of the people. Geoffrey Chaucer opposes the all-powerful 14th-century Catholic church in The Canterbury Tales. His displeasure resulted in the actions and practices of church officials. In The Canterbury Tales, individuals representing clergy members extort money, and sin for the gain of wealth within the church. Chaucer uses characterizations and language in The Canterbury Tales to express his displeasure and opposition with the 14th-century Catholic church’s practices. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer expresses a distaste with Catholic ideals and hypocrisy during the 14th-century. His distaste shows in the characterizations of the pilgrims that represent the clergy. Each member of the clergy has a characteristic that represents their corruption. In Ideas And Institutions In European History 800-1715 by Mendenhall, an idea forms about the church and its corrupt ways. Each representative of the church embraces the idea of one true church and puts emphasis on the aforementioned, which allows the clergy to place a “monopoly on salvation” (Mendenhall, 25). The idea of gaining salvation from only one church or religion increases the ability of that church to extort money in exchange for forgiveness and salvation. The money then goes into the pockets of the clergy. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer expresses the overwhelming wealth of the church through characterization of the Monk. Traditionally, Monks vow to a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience as outlined in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913). However, the Monk as described in The Canterbury Tales lives a life of “nonpareil was he, who rode, as steward of his monastery, the country round; a lover of good sport, a manly man fit to be an abbot” (Chaucer, 7). The Monk lives an uncharacteristically comfortable life that allows him time to hunt and enjoy lavish food and clothes. His lifestyle contradicts the traditional values of a Monk and therefore, symbolizes the church and their frivolous nature. Furthermore, The Monk is described as fit to be an abbot or head Monk, however, this contradicts the Monk's lack of consideration for his vows to a life of poverty and obedience considering his opposition to the
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