The 14th Century is a time in which the power of the English Church started to vanish because of multiple reasons. And Geoffrey Chaucer’s greatest work, the Canterbury Tales, can be a good evidence of the profligacy and immorality of the England Church at that time. In this magnificent piece of English literature, Chaucer expresses both his disappointment and admiration for the England Church through many different Church pilgrims form high social class to common people. By his description about the living qualities and moral standards of the various Church people, we can see that Chaucer thinks the English Church is a greedy institution where money comes before religion. And the Churchmen’s lavish personal lives indicate that most of the …show more content…
And from the clothes the descriptions of the Churchmen’s physical appearance and their possessions, we can tell most of their life styles are extremely lavish. The monk is very tan, because he spent a lot of time outside and only men were wealthy can afford to relax or hunt outside. He also owns a lot of horses, which is another sign of wealth. And the nun has very good clothes and rosary. But the parson, who is opposite whom from most the Church people and really preaches and teaches, is the only one who is in poverty. So it is obvious that Chaucer thinks the Church doesn’t appreciate those who are truly dedicated to Christianity but gives the special privileges to those who have power and greed. Maybe because of the general voracious circumstance of the Church, most of the Churchmen in Chaucer’s Tale are not holy or even moral in life. They put the traditional Christian rules behind and do things that are clearly forbidden in either Bible or in St. Benedict. The monk, as an example, thinks hunting and eating are the biggest fun in life. Hunters are considered unholy men because of they take killing as entrainment and pleasure. But the monk ignores that rule and even wants to convince other people to think that hunting is a holy thing. His lavish life is nowhere near the abstemious life style that is required in St. Benedict. Unfortunaly the monk is not the only one ignores the rules of Christianity.
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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:
Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales became one of the first ever works that began to approach the standards of modern literature. It was probably one of the first books to offer the readers entertainment, and not just another set of boring morals. However, the morals, cleverly disguised, are present in almost every story. Besides, the book offers the descriptions of the most common aspects of the human nature. The books points out both the good and the bad qualities of the people, however, the most obvious descriptions are those of the sinful flaws of humans, such as greed and lust.
Chaucer describes his grandiose opinion of himself, the friar is pompous and crooked. He surmises that a man of his “status” should not be seen with the lowly and poor, which is ironic because those are exactly the people he is meant to help. Chaucer as discloses the lengths he is willing to go for even the smallest person gain saying. “His brethren did no poaching where he went./For though a widow mightn’t have a shoe,/So pleasant was his holy how-d’ye-do/He got his/farthing from her just the same/Before he left, and so his income came” (“General Prologue”, 256-262). The friar is willing to take from the people who need it most in the community, the widow’s economic class and living conditions are used further show the reprehensible behavior of the religious characters. Friars, like several other religious orders are supposed to take a vow of poverty in order the become closer to Christ. The Friar in Canterbury Tales does the exact opposite. Both his greed and unscrupulous behavior of another religious character further substantiate the idea that the religious characters are used to reflect the corruption in the church.
The Monk in The Canterbury Tales is very contradictory to this common view. The man refutes his quiet reserved code to explore the modern world for answers. As opposed to taking care of normal duties he hunts and rides horses, which is against the code. The Monk ignores these rules. Chaucer asserts, "He did not rate that text at a plucked hen"(Chaucer 106). Chaucer is emphasizing in the prior line how the sacred texts the monk swore to live by are meaningless to him. Reasoning behind the Monk’s repulsion of the rules is because the rules are against what he is passionate about. Acosta agrees the clergyman may desire his title however does not favor the life of a monk, and in order to be a genuine monk he must quit hunting and begin the tasks of ordinary monks. Clerics like the Nun and the Monk initiate the questionable sanctity of Catholicism. Malfeasance
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.
Based on the Canterbury tales, Chaucer's point of view of the Church was that he thinks highly of the priests who pastor their congregations because they follow the commandments of Jesus Christ. The Summoner, the Pardoner, the Monk and the Prioress are full-time servants of the Church, but they tend to be selfish and care more for themselves than for God's work. The students Nicholas and Absalom are interested in promiscuous behaviors more than the Church. Nick' a misled God-fearing man is similar to the tale of Noah's Ark. He is swindled to cheat on his wife, and Abby is also lustful of his wife. The Church doctrine really doesn't help, by taking advantage of the men's situation for their own
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.
The Friar is one of the biggest examples of hypocrisy in the story. Throughout the Friar’s description, he is shown to take advantage of his position and shun his duties to benefit himself. Instead of conforming to the poor lifestyle of traditional friars, Chaucer’s Friar manipulates people into giving him money and then pockets it for himself. One way he takes advantage of his position is by charging people for confessions: “Sweetly he heard his penitents at shrift with pleasant absolution, for a gift” (103, 225-226). He also makes money by being an excellent beggar, as shown in the quote: “He was the finest beggar of his batch...For though a widow mightn’t have a shoe, so pleasant was his holy how-d’ye-do he got his farthing from her just the same...” (103, 259-261). The Friar also rejects his duties by refusing to associate with the needy, as described in the passage: “ It was not fitting with the dignity of his position, dealing with a scum of wretched lepers; nothing good can come of dealings with the
Chaucer lived in a time dictated by religion and religious ideas in which he uses The Canterbury Tales to show some of his views. Religion played a significant role in fourteenth-century England and also in Chaucer’s writing. His ideas of the Church are first seen in “The Prologue,” and he uses seven religious persons to show the influence of the religion in his writing. Although many of his characters appear to portray part of the corruption in the Church, he does give a small example in which one can conclude that he is speaking in praise.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales was written during a time of societal change, away from the stability of feudalism and towards an individualistic, mercantile economy. Feudalism consisted of a static, rural economy where every member had a duty to serve those above them. They valued the greater good and were not focused on gaining economically for their own personal benefit. An era of change, however, began as events such as the Crusades opened up trading opportunities which would eventually cause a shift in England, as the economy went from being land-based to money-based. A mercantile class was on the rise as well as capitalism. People were no longer driven to work by a sense of personal duty for the common good, but rather for their own social and economic gain. Corruption of the Church during this time as well increased, as church members were affected negatively by this changing economy. Many were driven by greed as well and took on immoral approaches towards their church positions. Vows and church teachings were disregarded as indulgences and materialism became the main focus of many in the clergy. Through his satirical portrayal of his characters in Canterbury Tales, Chaucer explores issues such as the changing economy and corruption of the church in order to expose and criticize the wrongdoings and values of his shifting society caused by the end of feudalism during this time.
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
They are both influential members of the church, however, one is more corrupt than the other. The Parson lives in poverty, sets himself as an example for all to follow, and is very pious in his life. The Monk, however, does not care for the rules of the church and blatantly disregards them. He hunts, owns fine fur and clothing, has golden jewelry, and even has animals such as greyhounds and horses. The divergent characteristics of these two men show Chaucer’s intention to expose and make fun of the corruption within the
The Knight, for example, is chosen to narrate the first tale. He is in the highest position from a social standpoint and displays the most admiring virtues for a medieval Christian man-at-arms: bravery, prudence, and honor. In contrast, belonging to the clergy, the Pardoner serves the author’s purpose of criticizing the church, as the character is exceptionally good at faking relics and collecting profits in his own benefit. Chaucer portrays in this tale the disagreement with the excess wealth and the spread corruption in Church at that
Many pilgrims in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales held a religious position. Some of these people’s personal ideas have caused debates and criticism over Chaucer’s opinion of the Catholic Church. Critics have discussed the ideas that were presented both subtly and openly. Two of the pilgrims and their tales will be discussed: the Prioress and the Pardoner. Both of these tales offer points of criticism in the Catholic Church.
In the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer describes the men and women of the Church in extreme forms; most of these holy pilgrims, such as the Monk, the Friar, and Pardoner, are caricatures of objectionable parts of Catholic society. At a time when the power-hungry Catholic Church used the misery of peasants in order to obtain wealth, it is no wonder that one of the greatest writers of the Middle Ages used his works to comment on the religious politics of the day.