Satire in Canterbury Tales Essay example

Words: 1039
Pages: 5

The aim of any true satirical work is to poke fun at a certain aspect of society, while also inspiring reform to that very same aspect in one way or another. In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Chaucer satirizes the Medieval Church and those associated with the church. Medieval society was centered largely around the Church. Ideally, the people were expected to understand that earthly possessions were meaningless when compared to the prospect of closeness with God. Man was expected to work until he died, at which time he would receive eternal salvation. This eternal salvation was achieved by obeying God's commandments. This theory, however, was becoming progressively corrupted as hypocrisy began to pollute the Church, particularly at the higher …show more content…
Chaucer tells how the Pardoner sang for the sole reason of "winning silver over from the crowd." In his own tale, the Pardoner is quick to preach the phrase Radix malorum est cupiditas, yet he is clearly a hypocrite for doing so. The pardoner admits, "I preach for nothing but the greed of grain," plainly revealing his one true motive. Chaucer makes sure to include these characters to present the reader with the numerous ways in which the men of the church are hypocrites when it comes to living what they preach.
Despite Chaucer's obvious contempt for the loss of true values in the Church, his optimism for the return to these values is shown in his presentation of the Parson. Chaucer presents the Parson as one of the only morally sound pilgrims and as the only member of the Church that is truly venerable. Chaucer tells how the Parson has a simple and plain outward appearance, but is rich in mind and spirit. The Parson makes sure his own parishioners were well off before he worried about his own well being. Chaucer lists a number of instances and scenarios in which the Parson acts in a manner that should be expected of priests, and thus praises him as a result. Chaucer says, "He sought no pomp or glory in his dealings,/ No scrupulosity had spiced his feelings./ Christ and His Twelve Apostles and their lore/ He taught, but followed it himself before." Chaucer expresses a genuine admiration and respect for the character of the Parson, while at the same time