Character Analysis: The Clerk In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.

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Panzarella 1

Jillian Panzarella                                                                                                

CP English 12

Mrs. Costanzo

January 7, 2003

Character Analysis:

The Clerk

        In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, of the narrator’s twenty-nine

companions, few of them are described without criticism or irony. Chaucer delights in

applying one, or even several, of the seven deadly sins to his fellow pilgrims while

choosing a select few to represent ideals and set standards for the rest of the debauched

passel. Among the pilgrims is a student, a Clerk, a character that, Chaucer feels,

portrays the archetype of the dedicated student. The Clerk is unconcerned with material

possessions or a worldly appearance, he is fiercely dedicated  to learning and study, as

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well as soft-spoken, speaking only what and when it is relevant and necessary.

In the general prologue the portrait of the Clerk fiercely contrasts that of the Merchant (Rossignol,      ).  The Merchant’s opulence and acquisitiveness allow one to more ably notice the Clerk’s poverty and devotion to “enriching his mind rather than his pocketbook” (Rossignol,      ). The Clerk is introduced by mention of the near-emaciated thinness of both he and his horse. His clothing was threadbare and his face was gaunt (Chaucer, Prologue to The Canterbury Tales). The Clerk’s appearance gives tangible evidence of where his ...

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