The Portrayal of the Clergy in the Canterbury Tales Essay

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The Portrayal of Religion and the Clergy in The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer, in his Canterbury Tales, felt that the Church's turmoil experienced during the fourteenth century contributed to the a declining trust of clergy and left the people spiritually devastated. The repeated epidemics that the European Church experienced weakened the church by highlighting the clergy's inability to face adversity. The clergy's inability to provide relief for the people during a period of suffering did not turn people away from the church, but it did cause the people to question the value of the Church's traditional practices. People looked for ways to gain greater control over their own spiritual destines and altered their perception of the …show more content…
The friar does accept generous contributions as an external sign of the inner contrition that otherwise could have not been attained. "The Shipman's Tale" tells of a story in which falls into the tradition of lechery. Lusty monks either dupe unexpecting husbands or are duped by women. In the tale the monk and his merchant friend's wife conspire to make the merchant pay for his own cuckolding. The monk who is immersing himself in business and pleasure seeking is lacking spiritual resonance. The tale of the monk symbolizes the fall of individuals ranging from Adam to Pedro the Cruel. Chaucer creates a Prioress even more elusive than the monk. Her role as a monastic leader intensifies her shortcomings, and she is presented as vacuous, spiritually shallow, and her attention is focused on mimicking aristocratic manners and on indulging her pets. (Owen 86-87) "For hers is not the childlikeness that Christians must achieve to attain the Kingdom of heaven but the childness that Paul urges Christians to put aside to reach spiritual maturity." (Bisson 93) Chaucer portrays a wide spectrum of monastic behavior in the characters. The Second Nun provides a model of monastic perfection. She devotes herself to spiritual study and her prologue credits her for avoiding idleness. The other major religious characters including the monk, prioress, and friar are