Essay on Criticism of the Church in the Canterbury Tales

Words: 1569
Pages: 7

The Canterbury Tales, a collection of tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, was written in Middle English at the end of the 14th century (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011). It is considered to be the best work of literature in English in the Middle Ages (Johnston, 1998). Chaucer uses literary devices as no one had ever done. In addition, he chose to use English instead of Latin. This masterpiece is structured in a similar way as Bocaccio's Decameron. The tales are organized within a frame narrative (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011) explained in the General Prologue by the narrator: a group of pilgrims that are going to visit St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury's Cathedral. These pilgrims are from different estates of the medieval society: nobility, the …show more content…
After analyzing two characters against who the narrator does not show great rejection, I am going to analyze the Friar and the Pardoner who the narrator describes in a very ironic and bitter tone. A friar is a roaming priest that begs for living whose goal is to help beggars and lepers selflessly. On the contrary, this friar really detests this kind of action because he does not get any benefice from it (lines 242-247). He likes to enjoy life and pleasures. He shows that he is not like a normal friar implying that he is above (lines 210-211) like an aristocrat (Knapp, 1999). In this sense, he acts like the Prioress does, pretending not to be who he really is, a beggar. The reader also knows that he accepts bribes and gives easy penance for extra donations so he can live better. He justifies his conduct explaining that giving money is a sign of repentance. Nevertheless, the Friar, as the Monk, is supposed to have done the vow of poverty. Contradicting any preconceived ideas the reader may have about friars, he has a good quality life thanks to keeping the money he should give his order and receiving extra incomes. In the description of the character, the audience understood how Chaucer is condemning the abuses of the Church by creating a person who does not follow any of the prototypical characteristics of a good Christian friar. Finally, I am going to explain in detail the character of the Pardoner. The Pardoner resembles the Friar in the fact that