• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What impression does The Prologue give you of the Church in Chaucer’s England?

Extracts from this document...


THE GENERAL PROLOGUE What impression does The Prologue give you of the Church in Chaucer's England? Chaucer uses The General Prologue to highlight the predicament and the shortcomings of the Church in England at his time: by the use of satire and irony he manages to effectively criticise the Church in the 14th century. I have chosen to use three of Chaucer's portraits to illustrate the impression he gives of the Church. The first of these characters is the Monk; a man who one must remember has vowed to lead a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. It can immediately be seen that Chaucer is not partial to the Church and the clergy. The first two lines set the scene for the portrait; Chaucer starts by telling the reader that the Monk outshines all other monks ('a fair for the maistrie' - line 165), this at first appears complimentary, though when one reads on one discovers that this monk outshines the other monks in his negligence of his duty to God. This "exceptional" monk is in fact a gluttonous, self-centred man, who would rather concentrate on hunting ('venerie' - line 166) and increasing his chances of a career promotion. ...read more.


Then Chaucer says that if this is the case, then 'How shal the world be served?' this could be the Monk asking what a state the world would be in if this was all monks did; "how could the monks effectively serve the world from the 'cloistre'?" On the other hand it could be Chaucer asking what a condition the world would be in if all monks took the Monk's perspective. The striking fact is that the Monk appears to completely miss the point of living a life in an isolated monastery, where rather than serving 'the world' he can in fact perform his true duty, serving God. The Monk says 'Let Austin have his swink to him reserved!' asking for Augustine to do his own work, his justification for his abandonment of monastic life. The hunting imagery returns as we hear of the Monk's 'Greyhoundes', clearly a sign of wealth and once more a defiance of his monastic vows. However this time we also hear of the Monk's sexual interests; in hunting hare ('priking') the Monk is hunting an animal renowned for its extremely prolific breeding. This is an image of sexual indulgence and hints once more at the fact that perhaps the Monk is not only decadent, fairly affluent and negligent to the Church, but he is also not chaste. ...read more.


The second character is the Friar; whom, like the Monk does Chaucer attack for his misuse of power, his manipulation of the vulnerable and his sexual promiscuity. Chaucer opens the portrait by getting to the point, saying that the Friar was 'wantowne and a merie', automatically targeting the disordered behaviour and frivolous nature of the Friar. Chaucer attacks him, saying that there is no friar in any of the four religious orders that can speak in such an obsequious nature ('so muchel of daliaunce and fair langage' - line 211). Chaucer immediately exposes the Friars sexual promiscuity, depicting how he used to exploit young girls, by seducing them and then paying them off in marriage. This is immediately followed by the Friar being described as being 'Unto his ordre he was a noble post' this is Chaucer ironically saying that in being an honoured member, the order itself must be deeply rooted in this sexual promiscuity. Also Chaucer's use of the word 'noble', which is used frequently throughout The General Prologue, is for ironic effect, making the Friar appear at first honourable and initially shrouding his immorality from the reader. This friar keeps company with 'frankleyns' and, showing his corruption and his Stuart Finlayson English 09.10.00 RBMi Chaucer: The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Geoffrey Chaucer section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Geoffrey Chaucer essays

  1. Chaucer: Satire And Humor

    and all of its religion was only implemented to ensure that the people would keep coming back (Brewer 68). The rest of the Prologue contains small but significant descriptions of the other characters. The most humorous of these descriptions is the description of the Wife of Bath.

  2. General Notes on Chaucer and the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales

    but are drawn from a broad range of society, from the noble knight to the drunken rascal of a Miller and the impoverished Parson. Choosing a pilgrimage as the vehicle for the tales was a brilliant move-a pilgrimage was the one occasion in medieval life when so wide a range

  1. The Canterbury Tales: The Miller’s Tale - How does Chaucer’s portrait of Alison ...

    Though a lot of the description compares Alison to different elements of nature, animals and plants. This shows that she seems pure and sweet, but she can also be wild and carefree. "As any wesel her body gent and small."

  2. The General Prologue

    His travels are remarkably vast; he has fought in Prussia, Lithuania, Russia, Spain, North Africa, and Turkey against pagans, Moors, and Saracens, killing many. The variety of lords for whom he has fought suggests that he is some kind of mercenary, but it seems that Chaucer may have known people at the English court with similar records.

  1. What is your impression of Robert Cohn? Paying close attention to the passage, show ...

    Later in his life, he was also taken in hand by a lady who was very forceful. He did not have a chance of not being taken in hand. He is also a literary person. This can be seen as in his final year, he read so much that he had to wear glasses.

  2. What impression of the pardoner's appearance and character have you received from the portrait, ...

    He thinks that his long yellow hair looks impressive, although it is another of his effeminate qualities, and so vainly shows it off at any opportunity.

  1. By a close examination of two or three of the portraits in the Gen ...

    He questions the point in keeping clergy confined to meaningless tasks, 'How shal the world be served?' He is tempted by the thrills of hunting and fine clothes, 'Hunting for the hare was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare'.

  2. From the time of his birth, in December of 1891, to his death in ...

    During this time he realized that his marriage to Beatrice too closely resembled the relationship he had with his mother. He soon met and married June Edith Smith Mansfield, a New York taxi driver and Broadway dancer, who financially supported and emotionally encouraged Miller while he pursued his artistic career.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work