Canterbury Tales Essay

Submitted By nostrilsrock
Words: 783
Pages: 4

The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer begins at the Tabard Inn, near London, where a group of twenty-nine people decide to go on a pilgrimage to the shrine of the martyr Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury. Chaucer uses the different Prologues to show the reader why these pilgrims were not making their pilgrimage in the right way and therefore will not reach salvation in the end. An important key to the story is the Chaucer starts these people on their pilgrimage during the scale of Libra that marks the time of judgment. The Prologues guide the reader to the correct way of seeing and reading the texts in a more clear view point.
The General Prologue opens the story with describing the motivations and process of the Canterbury pilgrimage. The story begins with a deal that each pilgrim tells two stories on the way to Canterbury and two more on the way back. The Prologue illustrates the many levels of English life that this group consists of. The order of the portraits is important because it provides a clue as to the social standing of the different occupations. The pilgrims presented first are representative of the highest social rank, with social rank descending with every new pilgrim introduced. The explanation of social classes is important because even though there were higher and lower class people on this journey, all people are welcome and seen as equal through God’s eyes. St Augustine would agree with this story because of how God should judge people on their actions and beliefs, not on their social ranking. Altogether the General Prologue sets the tone for the rest of the story even though it is suggested from the very beginning that the pilgrims will not reach Canterbury and are not going to be saved in the end.
The Parsons Prologue begins with the Parson being asked to tell and tale and shares of all life as a pilgrimage from this base, mundane world to the next celestial world, where all grief ends. The stern old man says that the pilgrims will get no "fables and swich wreccheddnesse" (36) from him they get not get poetry; he is no rhymester, nor would he have a story that would amuse and entertain. He says he has a sermon designed for those who wish to make the final mortal pilgrimage to the Heavenly Jerusalem. He believes that God does not desire any man to perish, and there are many spiritual ways to the Celestial City. The Parson says the noble ways include penitence, contrition, confession, and satisfaction, which essentially spell out the Seven Deadly: pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, gluttony, and lechery. Certainly, the Parson preaches with all the force that the medieval pulpit afforded him, and he ends with the compelling image of the goal of man's pilgrimage, that is, heaven and immortality. The theology of the Middle Ages viewed this life as something of a cesspool that man was supposed to struggle through, committing as few sins as possible. This world was to be endured, not…