Canterbury Tales By Chaucer Essay Research Paper

Canterbury Tales By Chaucer Essay, Research Paper Geoffrey Chaucer?s Canterbury Tales is a story of nine and twenty pilgrims traveling to Canterbury, England in order to visit the shrine of St. Thomas A.

Canterbury Tales By Chaucer Essay, Research Paper

Geoffrey Chaucer?s Canterbury Tales is a story of nine and twenty pilgrims

traveling to Canterbury, England in order to visit the shrine of St. Thomas A.

Becket. The General Prologue starts by describing the beauty of nature and of

happy times, and then Chaucer begins to introduce the pilgrims. Most of

Chaucer?s pilgrims are not the honorable pilgrims a reader would expect from

the beautiful opening of the prologue, and instead they are pilgrims that

illustrate moral lessons. In the descriptions of the pilgrims, Chaucer?s

language and wit helps to show the reader how timeless these character are.

Chaucer describes his pilgrims in a very kind way, and he is not judgmental.

Each of these pilgrims has a trade, and in most cases, the pilgrims use their

trade in any possible way to benefit themselves. By using our notion of

stereotypes, and counter stereotypes, Chaucer teaches us many moral lessons

about religion and money. Chaucer?s moral lessons start while he is

introducing the pilgrims. These pilgrims are not from the same social stations

in life, and instead they range anywhere from a rich lady from Bath to a drunken

miller. It is nice to think twenty nine people with different social classes can

all join together and go on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, but this is not likely

in today?s society. This idea helps not only to show Chaucer?s religious and

platonic view, but also how society should be accepting and look at each other

the way Chaucer does in the General Prologue. Each of the pilgrims Chaucer

describes can be considered timeless characters with timeless moral problems,

since people today still display these characteristics. Chaucer describes all of

the pilgrims; however, some character?s moral problems stand out more so than

others do. The Prioress, the Monk, the Friar, the Franklin, the Wife of Bath,

the Summoner and the Pardoner are all characters that have valuable lessons to

teach us through their behavior and through Chaucer?s wit. The most obvious

problem with these characters is that they are not at all who a reader would

think they are. Chaucer shows the characters faults in a diplomatic way, and

these faults are apparent through the description in the General Prologue. The

Prioress, also known as Mme.Eglantine, is the mother superior at her nunnery. By

saying she is the superior at her nunnery, the impression is that she must be a

devout lady who loves God, however, this is not the case. She is a very proper

lady who sings through her nose, loves her lap dogs and eats with impeccable

manners. As Chaucer describes, ?She was so charitable and so pitous,? she

even cried when she saw a dead mouse (p. 218). She had an impressive forehead

and a gold broach which said ?Amor vincit omnia,? which means love conquers

all (p. 219). Her engraved broach seems to speaks more of secular love than of

Godly love, (Godly love in Latin is Amour Dei) (class discussion). This prioress

is much more concerned with manners and demonstrating her demureness than

showing her love for God. Her broach demonstrates what she thinks is most

important. Chaucer ends with this, and the reader realizes that her love for God

should be what is most important to her. The next character we learn from also

holds a position in the Church, the Monk. This religious servant, like the nun,

also loves something before God; this man loves the outdoors and hunting. In

this case, the reader usually pictures a monk as someone who really loves God

and devout in his religious studies, but the monk is a very different case.

Studying inside the cloister or working with his hands was out of the question;

riding is much more his style. He has the finest horses with decorated saddles,

and he also uses the church?s money for racing greyhounds. He has spared no

expense for his clothes or his meals. Chaucer elegantly shows how materialistic

this monk is; it seems he cares more for hunting and racing than he does for

God. Another religious figure is the Friar, who is the one the most corrupt of

the religious pilgrims. A Friar is not high in the Church, but nonetheless they

have a duty to be of good moral standards and help anyone who comes to them;

this Friar is not the typical stereotype. Today, He is of good nature and as

Chaucer said ?ful wel biloved,? liked by all (p. 220). He is very familiar

with Franklins (who were rich landowners) and with the young women. In fact, he

has found many young women husbands. This Friar hears confessions and is easy to

give forgiveness if the confessor has money for penance, plus he figures that he

does not need to be seen with leapers or poor people. Penance is better than

crying or weeping over the sin, and in his patrons eyes he was courteous and

humble. There is no better a beggar in his entire house and he always left with

a donation. The Friar is very clever at his trade. He deals only with the people

who would reward him handsomely and did not even bother with the poor or sick;

although, he does take time to talk to all of the young women. It is not hard to

understand Chaucer?s use of wit with the Friar; it is obvious that he takes

full advantage of his position and has no site of God in his mind. He does

everything for himself, especially to get money or ?relations.? He takes no

consideration that he should be helping people instead of taking advantage of

them. The Friar dealt with many Franklins, and there is also a Franklin on this

pilgrimage. The Franklin has a red face and this might be related to his love of

wine. Here is a pilgrim who is not in the Church, however, he still can teach us

a moral lesson. He is described to have a sanguine complexion, and in middle

evil times people were described by four bodily humors (p. 225). Chaucer uses

his wit here and says ?For he was Epicurus owene sone;? Epicurus is a Greek

philosopher who believed pleasure is the goal of life (p.223). This man loves to

eat and his tastes change with the seasons, although his table was always set

well. Food and wine were this man?s vices as Chaucer shows, and the lesson

this pilgrim shows us is that pleasure is not the main goal of life. In fact,

this man?s main goal in life should be to serve God. The Wife of Bath is the

next pilgrim in mind, and she is not in the Church, however, she more than the

stereotypical housewife. This lady is in a category of her own. She is a

housewife and can be considered a professional pilgrim who has traveled to many

destinations. She also enjoys husbands, five to be exact. Chaucer says she has

is respectable, not counting her youthful days. She is a bold, outspoken woman,

and her clothes reflect her personality, especially her headdress that hangs to

the floor. She is charitable if and only if she is the first to the altar. The

Wife of Bath also rides well and is good company. She knows of many love

remedies, because she knows about ?that old dance? (p. 226). In the Wife of

Bath?s description, Chaucer uses the Wife of Bath to illustrate love, or lack

of it. The Wife of Bath marries older rich men and when they die, she finds

another. This woman?s pilgrimaging might be to find rich husbands more than

celebrating the holy destinations on the pilgrimage. Like other pilgrims, she

knows how to work her station in life to her advantage. The Summoner and the

Pardoner are two of the most corrupt pilgrims, and yet they have the jobs with

the most power over people?s souls and lives. One would expect the two

pilgrims who are high in the Church to be some pilgrims that really did care for

God and truly are in this job to serve others and God, however, this is not

true. The Summoner appearance scared children because he had a fire red face

with sores all over it. He, like the Friar, also likes female ?company.? The

Summoner?s job is to summon offenders to the ecclesiastical court, sometimes

guilty or not depending on the person?s purse. His position makes him

powerful, and he used his rank in any way he could for money. The Pardoner also

loved ?earning? money; his appearance was frightening, but he believes he is

following the latest fashion. His wallet is full and hot of pardons and money,

and in his bag he claimed to have part of the sail that St. Peter had until

Jesus got it. The Pardoner also has other relics that he used to make money off

of unsuspecting parsons. Although, when in church, he is a ?noble ecclesiaste,?

teaching lessons, preaching and especially singing because he knows the money

will follow. This pilgrim is high in the Church, yet he seems to have no respect

for God; he only cares for money. In the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer creates

timeless characters that we can still learn from today. The General Prologue

starts with the idea of springtime and flowers blooming, and this may be

Chaucer?s way of saying these characters, despite their moral afflictions,

might be born again over the pilgrimage. It is ironic how all of these morally

corrupt people go on a religious pilgrimage, yet they do not seem to incorporate

God in their everyday lives. Chaucer?s style of writing, his use of

stereotypes and counter stereotypes really helps the reader to think and learn

the moral lessons the characters have not quite mastered. There are many lessons

learned here just by the description of the characters, and most of the moral

lessons and wit stems from the pilgrim?s taking advantage of their trades

whether it is a housewife or a pardoner.