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

Chaucer's Depiction of the Corrupt Church in the Canterbury Tales

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Southerland Kirby Southerland English 2010 Section 101 September 11, 2012 The Corrupt Church in the Canterbury Tales The Canterbury Tales is a famously satirical piece written by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century. Though there are many theories of what Chaucer was criticizing, he mainly was questioning the motives of the church. Chaucer used important figures in the church as characters in the story who go on a journey to Canterbury although the characters do not match the typical ideals of those who would be attributed with the church. Historically, according to the feudal system, the king was to give twenty-five percent of his wealth to the church, which proves the church had plenty of money to use in ways that would not agree with the typical morals of the church. Chaucer is making social commentary by highlighting on the religious hypocrisy and the church as it relates to money. Chaucer begins with his criticism in ?The Prologue? by immediately characterizing those who are affiliated with the church in order of their social status, showing that there are many aspects of the church that fall short morally. ...read more.


Chaucer then goes on to explain that the Prioress ?had a few small dogs that she fed- with roast meat or milk and fine bread? (ll 146-147), further showing that the nun didn?t take her religious duties as seriously as she should have. The Monk comes next in Chaucer?s hierarchy, with the description being ?he didn?t give a plucked hen for that text that said hunters are not holy men?? ?why should he study and drive himself mad.? (ll 177-178) Chaucer mocks the Monk?s lifestyle by criticizing what he chose to do instead of taking his holy vow of silence. He was a hunter and wore expensive clothes: ?I saw that his sleeves were edged at the cuff with gray fur?and to fasten his hood under his chin he had a very intricate pin made of gold? (ll 193) though as a man of the church he should not have had the funds to support his lavish lifestyle, which is why Chaucer criticized the church, because he thought that it was corrupt. Chaucer goes on to say, ?He was a fine fat lord in splendid shape,?(ll 200) ...read more.


He was also a learned man, a clerk; The Christian gospel he would truly preach, devoutly his parishioners to teach,? (ll 479-482) from this line the reader gains a more clear understanding for how the church was supposed to be viewed. Those who were affiliated with the church were supposed to be devout and faithful to their God, though many did not fulfill the stereotypes that they were expected to. All in all, the problem with the church is that those who are supposed to be the most holy are not at all. The obsession with money and the wrongful spending of it by all of those who are affiliated is what made the church receive so much criticism. The implied solution to the corruptness of the church is simple: to remove the money. The one character who received little criticism was the only one who helped the church be seen in a positive light, and that was the Parson. By removing the excessive money from the church, the corrupt clergy members would go back to their vows of silence and poverty and the church would be restored to its original holiness. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Medieval 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 University Degree Medieval essays

  1. Virtue and the 'endless figure' in the works of the Pearl-poet. The Pearl-poets works ...

    of [the poet's] willingness to use courtly language metaphorically to express the values and relationships of heaven.'6 Indeed, the concatenation word of this Fitt is 'delyt', a word which can mean both 'delight' and 'desire', and in this context, as Andrew and Waldron note, serves to emphasise both the bliss

  2. Dantes Divine Comedy. Discuss what you consider to be the most important allegorical features ...

    I believe that it is immensely significant for the poet to express the parallels between the pilgrim and Ulysses, as it serves to be a point of reference for the pilgrims' journey. Dante the pilgrim is a Ulysses - before the pilgrimage starts he finds himself in a 'dark wood,

  1. Chaucers presentation of Troilus and Criseydes love reflects the insurmountable influences of the conventional ...

    Chaucer deals with the fate of his main characters in a morally serious way although alternative readings are overly simplistic when they argue it was the absence of Christian marriage that caused the love affair to end - there are other societal factors to be considered.

  2. The main characters in Le Roman de la Rose and Sir Gawain and the ...

    Even though the object of his desire and the person that could helped him obtain it, Fair Welcome, are no longer at his reach, he doesn't stop believing in the strength of his love, in his confidence towards the God of Love.

  1. 'It is clear...that Chaucer used the couple relationship as a kind of open field ...

    do not react to other characters as much as to their reputations.' (Condren, 1999, p. 53) By having the Miller force himself forward and tell a tale which challenges the knight's, Chaucer establishes a narrative technique of the challenge to authority also present in 'The Wife of Bath's Tale' as will be demonstrated later.

  2. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

    The author does not describe in detail these fights that Gawain engages in which supports the idea that this challenge Gawain is enduring is one of a different sort. It is not a physical challenge, but rather a virtuous challenge, one that tests his honor and his excellence in character.

  1. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - The audience, the Pentangle and the Green ...

    Barron offers tentative suggestions as to who they were: '...country gentry', or '...great nobles...' (p 55), while Coleman (1981 p 44) suggests a '...local magnate with a family and manor in south-west Lancashire' That the poet intended 'Sir Gawain' for the educated audience of a northern court can be seen from the content of the poem.

  2. The fame shame warrior ethic was extremely important to ancient civilizations. It was how ...

    fight with Grendel's mother: "that richly ornamented hilt, / and the head of Grendel" (102).

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