Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, using his characters as the mouthpiece for his iconoclastic views. Chaucer had serious issues with the hypocrisy of the church as well as, many other sacred institutions. The only reason that Chaucer was not exiled or even imprisoned for his views is the way in which he exposed them. Through the allegorical meanings of this text and Chaucer’s claim that he is simply retelling the events of his pilgrimage to Canterbury as it occurred, Chaucer is saved from extreme persecution. From the beginning of time there has always been issues with challenging the higher order; allowing people to make their own decisions and separate themselves from the way of the church often lead to death. In 1350 the
The Canterbury Tales, written and narrated by Geoffrey Chaucer, explores manipulation and dishonesty in the Catholic Church. The Nun in “The General Prologue” exemplifies improper qualities to which a Prioress should have. Along with the Nun, The Friar in “The General Prologue” uses false information to gain customer. In “The Pardoner’s Tale,” the Pardoner uses greedy tactics to wield other pilgrims into buying his relics.In Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Chaucer uses the Nun and the Friar in “The General Prologue” and the Pardoner in “The Pardoner’s Tale” to show the hypocrisy in the Church.
In the debate, a number of different options have emerged. Some, like medieval author Paul Ruggiers, argue that it is impossible to determine the Prioress?s attitude and that, ?we must be satisfied with ambiguity.? Others like writer Victoria Wickham argue the most popular belief, that the Prioress?s bigotry is without question and readers should be more concerned about the degree rather than the fact itself. But there is another possibility. Edwards and Spector, two prominent medieval scholars, put aside the issue of racism temporarily and instead offer an alternative interpretation on the very nature of Chaucer?s love-hate contradiction in the Prioress?s tale. They argue that the love vs. hate contradiction is not dependent on outside forces, but is actually an internal conflict within the Prioress herself. Consequently, the individuals and subsequent groups in her tale are not specific characters but culturally influenced manifestations representing separate issues. In this way her personality becomes the allegory of her tale, making specific references within her story irrelevant to her true attitude.
Three of Chaucer’s tales are written with a central Christian theme, the Prioress’s Tale, the Second Nun’s Tale, and the Parson’s Tale. The Prioress’s Tale is said to be about a miracle of the Virgin Mary, the Second Nun’s Tale is a biography of Saint Cecilia, and the Parson’s Tale is considered a sermon. Just as The Canterbury Tales shows a theme of Christianity, it also shows a theme of religious corruption. In the tales of the Friar, Prioress, Pardoner, and Monk, corruption of the church is shown and influences each character in a different way. In the Friar, the focus is on money, horses, and the responsibility of his monastery. But, the Friar also seduces women and provide them with a spouse to stay out of trouble. In the tale of Prioress, Chaucer describes her as too busy being a court lady to take care of her nunnery. In the Pardoner, he takes advantage of others by taking money for giving pardons for the sins of others, even going as far as selling relics. The Monk takes money for forgiveness, refuses to help the poor, and pays other beggars to leave so he can attain all of the money from that area. He does all of this while he is supposed to be pledging his life to poverty and those less fortunate. Chaucer shows a theme of Christianity just as he shows a theme of religious corruption. As
In Geoffrey Chaucer's, The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer narrates the accounts of several pilgrims on their way to visit the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at the Cathedral in Canterbury. Through his narratives, Chaucer presents his audience with a broad representation of life and social class interaction in both the pilgrims and the characters in their tales. Chaucer brings to light various ideas, thoughts, and commentary in regards to medieval society. The two most significant characters who provide the greatest insight into contemporary medieval society are the Wife of Bath and the Prioress. Through both the Wife of Bath's Tale and the Prioress's Tale, Chaucer articulates his opinionated views of the etiquette and conduct of women in the
The Canterbury Tales features a character called The Nun (The Prioress). Chaucer describe her as a friendly and charitable Nun with a big heart, but also makes fun of her actions and looks. For example, “And she spoke daintily in French, extremely, after the school of Stratford-atte-Bowe, French in the Paris style she did not know.” (128-130). In addition to the blatant negativity he mentions “She was very entertaining” (141). He makes fun of her then mentions she is very entertaining as if she is entertainment to him. Her flaws and attitude are seen very clearly through the passage such as her bad french and table manners. This being said the Nun is told to be lower on social ranking. “To counterfeit a courtly kind of grace a stately
In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Chaucer begins with a description of twenty-nine travelers on a pilgrimage to visit the grave of the Saint of Canterbury. Chaucer purposefully makes The Wife of Bath stand out more compared to the other characters. In the General Prologue, the Wife of Bath is described in an explicit manner; her clothes, physical features and references to her past are purposely designed to be in sharp contrast to the Christian authorities regarding what was considered proper womanly behavior, while also alluding to her reasoning against the anti-feministic mind set.
There are three women in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the prioress, the wife of Bath and the prostitute in the Shipman’s Tale. The prioress and the wife of Bath are the only ones of the three that have a fully developed part of the overall work. They are equal to the male characterizations; the prostitute is only minor player. Women are rarely mentioned in the other pilgrim’s tales. The wife of Bath and the Prioress are examples of strong medieval women. As Chaucer depicts them, they are a departure from the typical sinful daughters of Eve with the exception of the prostitute. The wife Dame Alisoun, and the prioress are both pious, successful females but they are still under the domain of men. Chaucer’s women are still part of the patriarchal world of the late middle ages.
Chaucer's view of the clergy class is not as positive as his view of the ruling class. For example, Chaucer describes the Prioress/Nun using a great amount of satire. He speaks of how the nun has excellent etiquette and manners. She tries so hard to be respected and viewed as one with higher status. Her character is best described in the quote:
The Prioress, Madame Eglantine, is a character full of denial. Though she is a nun whose duties should be pledged to God, she certainly considers herself a lady first. She speaks bad French, ate and dressed very carefully, and wears a brooch that says "love conquers all." She also cares deeply for animals, bringing several along with her on the pilgrimage. Her lady-like behavior seems to stand in direct contrast to the ways of a good Nun. This is Chaucer's first criticism of religion, a theme he returns to throughout the poem.
Chaucer did not begin working on "The Canterbury Tales" until he was in his early 40s. Chaucer took his narrative inspiration for his works from several sources but still remained an entirely
This shows a double standard in the Prioress’s character. Although she is the most compassionate and loving woman, she is very anti-Semitic. She wants mercy for the little boy and anyone grieving for him, yet she supports the action of the Jews being hastily judged and hanged. Ames says, “Chaucer has portrayed the combination with such uncanny accurately that the Prioress seems a prototype of the pious lady who would not hurt a mouse but who would not stop a lynching of those outsiders she fears and hates.” (200)
In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the prioress’s behavior can be interpreted as being part of the change occurring within religious institutions, which were changing to allow for freedom of thought and individual choice, as the nun does when she takes the liberty of customizing her fine garb by wearing it with beads and a gold brooch. The nun is one of the first characters to be given a name and as such is identified as being an individual, and not just seen as being a nun. The nun’s deviation from expected behavior and norms can thus be seen as a positive trait which Chaucer praises as women became more independent and redefined their own roles in society. Excessive understatement, negative imagery, and refined diction, however
The theme for this tale is Love Conquers All (Sparknotes). The Prioress is a Nun who must accept the 4 vows. But the readers see her as someone who is opposite and does not accept them. Poverty is a vow in which a Nun must hold no worthy possessions. But the Prioress happens to own a beautiful brooch in which the readers believe she is not fully dedicated to the church. Another vow that the Prioress does not exceed in is the faithfulness of chastity. Nuns are servants to the church and they are suppose to show promiscuity. Since Chaucer does not mention the third vow, obedience, it shows that the Prioress does not follow this one either since she is not apart of the first two "The Prioress of The Canterbury Tales." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Oct 2009 http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=15607. Now the readers believe that the Prioress does not serve God in any way. The third vow is probably the most important one. The Prioress is
The “General Prologue” provides us with no evidence as to the character of the Nun’s Priest. Only in the prologue to his tale do we finally get a glimpse of who he might be, albeit rather obtusely. As Harry Bailey rather disparagingly remarks: “Telle us swich thyng as may oure hertes glade./Be blithe, though thou ryde upon a jade” (p.235, ll2811-2812). I say this cautiously because much criticism has surrounded the supposed character of the Nun’s Priest, his role in the tale, and his relationship to the Canterbury Tales as a whole. One example, in my opinion, of an unsatisfactory reading is exemplified by Arthur Broes’s 1963 article “Chaucer’s Disgruntled Cleric: The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.” Broes argues that the Nun’s Priest is an “erudite