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Paradise Lost and The Canterbury Tales Essay

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The Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer, was written in the 14th Century during the Hundred Years War. Each of the characters was made to represent one of the 7 sins. In Paradise Lost, written by John Milton, every character has a direct connection to an earthly comfort. Both stories are written with the intent to teach its readers; however, Paradise Lost was written in in the 17th century, which means the writing style and the social standard on what the difference is between right and wrong, and how salvation is received is very different.
In the 14th century, war, and violence were prevalent. The Canterbury Tales were written during the Hundred Years War, when the Catholic Church was dealing with the Western schism, and “Against the darkest period of his life…” (Bloom 14). The story is centered on a group of thirty pilgrims who are traveling to the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury (Bloom 14). The pilgrims are all focused on a theme which is backed by the story’s underlying tone of religion.
The characters are on a pilgrimage which is a clear indicator that the text is of religious genre. The Catholic Church, at the time, was losing many followers due to the Black Death and their lack of faith in the importance of the church. The Summoner and the Pardoner, who both represent the Catholic Church, are both described as greedy, corrupt, and abusive. This is a direct correlation to how Chaucer and many others felt about the Catholic Church during this period. The Monk and the Prioress are not described as being corrupt like the Summoner and the Pardoner; however they are described as falling short of what is considered ideal for people of their position. They both are described as being in a depressed state. Also bot...


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... Eve are able to feel penitent and pray for forgiveness” (Nutt 225). Milton is also very concerned with the correct process of how man is saved. “…how, through the divine gift of grace, mankind can seek salvation” (Nutt 66).
Both plays argue their ideas and opinions about salvation, the hypocrisy of the church and the hypocritical, selfish gains, masked by ‘pious’ work by man, in The Canterbury Tales. The difference in time displays the level of depth that each author can go into challenging the norm and arguing their ideas. In Paradise Lost it is obvious that temptation can come in very attractive forms but only by God’s grace, are we saved. Both authors agree that mankind is flawed and but the knowledge of said shortcomings and the study of what is right is what makes life interesting and worth living and this is what determines salvation: fighting the good fight



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