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The Canterbury Tales Clergy

The clergy in Chaucer's story, The Canterbury Tales

Valerie Cortez

on 5 November 2014

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Transcript of The Canterbury Tales Clergy

The Canterbury Tales

The Parson
The Parson is the only man in Chaucer's tale that has not been corrupted by money or other outside influences.
The job description in the Middle Ages of a Parson was to demonstrate religious teachings of the Gospel and spread the word of God, as well as helping people in need
A parson is the equivalent to a priest in modern society because they both share religious duties in the sense that they are willing to help people in need, while spreading the Gospel through daily actions
This pilgrim is very humble and offers his help to anybody who asks for it. He is never scornful of sinners and is always willing to help. This trait can show that there are still good people in the clergy, and that Chaucer believed that those that may not be totally associated with the church may do more good that those that are.
The Parson's humility shows that he doesn't care about worldly items that other members of the clergy regard as important. He focuses on his religious duties because that's what he believes is his purpose.
He doesn't believe in cursing to extort a fee from people. By saying this, Chaucer is proving that the Parson is aware of the corrupt people that are members of the clergy, but he chooses to be better and do what he is supposed to do.
The tone the narrator takes with this pilgrim is a very esteemed and awestruck tone. He seems to be very pleased with the Parson, and admires his lifestyle.
The Nuns
The Nun shows an interest and concern for animals and creatures, but not for humans.
Chaucer describes her as elegant and well mannered, she is also well educated.
Chaucer describes the nun mostly on her physical appearance, such as her beauty.
Positive tone in the beginning but ironic and neutral towards the end.
Hubert, The Friar
The Summoner
The summoner had the job of bringing people in front of a religious court.
The modern equivalent would be the Middle Eastern Mutaween (Islamic religious police).
The summoner is very corrupt and he does not follow the ideals of the church and he is also extremely secular.
He is unattractive and scares children away whenever he's near them, which Chaucer uses to show that he looks just as bad on the outside as he is on the inside.
Chaucer uses a negative tone when describing the summoner
The Monk
The Monk is supposed to devote their entire life to God, and study scriptures.
Their Modern equivalent would be someone who devotes their entire life to god, so it would still be a Monk.
The Monk is very materialistic.
He doesn't follow monk rules and traditions.
The monk seems like he would be an upperclassmen or a noble rather than a man devoted to God.
The author's overall tone is negative but ironic.
"And that a monk uncloistered is a mere fish out of water, flapping on the pier, that is to say a monk was out of his cloister. That was a text he held not worth an oyster" (lines 183-186).
Overview of Clergy
In Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, the clergy are depicted as very corrupt, venal people who use the church as a way to get their desired possessions
Jewelry, money, and a higher social status are all factors that corrupt the clergy in Chaucer's tale
The clergy in this tale is comprised of a:
- Summoner
The Pardoner
The Pardoner is another member of the clergy that has been corrupted by money and other rewards.
The pardoner's job is to read a lesson or tell a story, but often he would sing an Offertory merrily and loud to win silver from the crowd.
The pardoner is a noble ecclesiastic in the church.
The author described the pardoner as a man who has hair as yellow as wax, bulging eye-balls like a hare and possessed the same small voice a goat has.
His job today would be the person leading the church choir and the collector of the money.
The author uses a neutral tone on this character at first, but then he uses a much more negative tone towards the end.
The Nun's specific type of job is basically performing services to the church such as singing hymns.
The Nun's modern equivalent in today's world is basically the same idea, so it would be a nun.
The Nun is concerned with her physical appearance so that she is seen as clean and well organized.
The nun cares a lot on how her manners affect her behavior, not the people.
The Nun's name is Madam Eglantyne.
to be very pious and dutiful
However, Chaucer uses
to portray him differently
Deceiving in appearance
Wears costly cloaks
Charging for easy penances
Full transcript