Preview
Preview

Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Essay

No Works Cited
Length: 924 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Yellow      
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales


In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer comments on moral corruption within the Roman Catholic Church. He criticizes many high-ranking members of the Church and describes a lack of morality in medieval society; yet in the “Retraction,” Chaucer recants much of his work and pledges to be true to Christianity. Seemingly opposite views exist within the “Retraction” and The Canterbury Tales. However, this contradiction does not weaken Chaucer’s social commentary. Rather, the “Retraction” emphasizes Chaucer’s criticism of the Church and society in The Canterbury Tales by reinforcing the risk inherent in doing so.

In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer portrays the Roman Catholic Church as an institution in which corruption runs rampant. Chaucer attacks almost all of the pilgrims who are officials of the Church. For example, in “The General Prologue,” the Prioress is “so charitable and so pitous” that she feeds her lapdogs “With rosted flessh, or milk and wastelbreed” (143, 147). However, considering the impoverished condition of many people during the Middle Ages, would it not be more charitable for the Prioress to give meat, milk and bread to the poor, instead of to her dogs? Furthermore, the Friar breaks the Franciscan vows of poverty, chastity and service. Instead of helping lepers and beggars, the Friar “knew [knows] the tavernes wel in every town, / And every hostiler and tappestere” (GP 241-2). The Friar is also wealthy from the profits of bribed confessions; he dresses not like a poor Franciscan should, but “lik a maister or a pope” (GP 263). The Pardoner also admits and even boasts about his own hypocritical morals. He explains that the relics he sells are fake, along with the absolutions he gi...


... middle of paper ...


... the presence of corruption within the Church; the personal interests of the Wife of Bath, the Franklin, and even the Sergeant at Law reflect the effects of the Church in society.

The stark contrast between the devout tone of the “Retraction” and the critical tone of The Canterbury Tales highlight Chaucer’s commentary on the corruption of the Church. The “Retraction” reminds the reader of the severe consequences of opposing the Church during the Middle Ages. Chaucer’s profession of faith, which appears so out of context in comparison to many aspects of The Canterbury Tales, actually reinforces the theme of corruption within the Roman Catholic Church and within society. Separately, the “Retraction” and The Canterbury Tales give contrasting views of medieval life; together, they create a unified account of individual immorality caused by corruption of the Church.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Essay - Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer comments on moral corruption within the Roman Catholic Church. He criticizes many high-ranking members of the Church and describes a lack of morality in medieval society; yet in the “Retraction,” Chaucer recants much of his work and pledges to be true to Christianity. Seemingly opposite views exist within the “Retraction” and The Canterbury Tales. However, this contradiction does not weaken Chaucer’s social commentary. Rather, the “Retraction” emphasizes Chaucer’s criticism of the Church and society in The Canterbury Tales by reinforcing the risk inherent in doing so....   [tags: Chaucer Canterbury Tales Essays] 924 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Essay - Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales While the majority of literary classics today do well at engaging the reader and allowing them a vicarious understanding of a fictitious character’s life, Chaucer found a way to engage more than just the reader and the character. In his Canterbury Tales, Chaucer masterfully links together himself as the author, himself as a character in the story, the other characters, and then finally the readers. Chaucer’s “narrative flow” forms a type of giant sphere, where connections can be made from both characters and real people to characters connecting with other characters....   [tags: Chaucer Canterbury Tales Essays] 628 words
(1.8 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Essay - Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Critics interpreting Chaucerian depictions of drunkenness have traditionally focused on the state as an unalloyed vice, citing variously as justification the poet’s Christian conservatism, his intimate association with the disreputable London vintner community, and even possible firsthand familiarity with alcoholism. While we must always remain vigilant to the evils of excessive inebriation, to portray Chaucer’s images of drink and revelry in The Canterbury Tales as an unqualified denunciation is to oversimplify the poet’s work and to profane his art....   [tags: Chaucer Canterbury Tales Essays] 3290 words
(9.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on The Pardoner's Tale of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales - The Pardoner's Tale of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is a structured novel which starts with the narrator obtaining twenty traveling companions at an inn. They are all traveling to Canterbury to pay homage to a saint. On their way, these colorful individuals decide to make the trip more bearable by having a story telling contest. Each will tell one story on the way to Canterbury, and one story on the way back. The winner will be decided by the inn's host, who is accompanying them....   [tags: Geoffrey Chaucer Canterbury Tales] 1495 words
(4.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Passive Women in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales? Essay examples - Passive Women in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. One argument that reigns supreme when considering Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is whether or not there is an element of anti-feminism within the text. One thread that goes along with this is whether or not the women of The Canterbury Tales are passive within the tales told. This essay will explore the idea that the women found within the tales told by the pilgrims (The Knight’s Tale, The Miller’s Tale and The Wife of Bath’s Tale to name a few) are not passive at all, but rather influence the turn of events within the stories....   [tags: Chaucer Canterbury Tales Women Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1476 words
(4.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay - Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales The Knight, Squire, Prioress, The Monk and the Friar are defined by their settings in Geoffrey Chaucer’s "Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales. 1. Portnoy says in his article in the Chaucer Review that "The General Prologue is like a mirror reflecting the individuals appearance which then defines the character of that person."(281) 2. Scanlon backs up Portnoy in his article from Speculum by saying "…Characters descriptions somehow emerge inevitably from the original intentions of Chaucer’s text or reflect its lasting value." (128) 3....   [tags: Chaucer Geoffrey Canterbury Tales Essays]
:: 8 Works Cited
1275 words
(3.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on The Bourgeois Social Class in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - It is clear that Geoffrey Chaucer was acutely aware of the strict classist system in which he lived; indeed the very subject matter of his Canterbury Tales (CT) is a commentary on this system: its shortcomings and its benefits regarding English society. In fact, Chaucer is particularly adept at portraying each of his pilgrims as an example of various strata within 14th century English society. And upon first reading the CT, one might mistake Chaucer's acute social awareness and insightful characterizations as accurate portrayals of British society in the late 1300s and early 1400s....   [tags: Chaucer Canterbury Tales] 5134 words
(14.7 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Perceptions of Marriage in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales - Perceptions of Marriage in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales       Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales demonstrate many different attitudes toward and perceptions of marriage.  Some of these ideas are very traditional, such as that discussed in the Franklin's Tale, and others are more liberal such as the marriages portrayed in the Miller's and the Wife of Bath's Tales.  While several of these tales are rather comical, they do indeed give us a representation of the attitudes toward marriage at that time in history....   [tags: Canterbury Tales Essays Chaucer Papers]
:: 3 Works Cited
1430 words
(4.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on The Pardoner from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - The Pardoner from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, The Pardoner tells a story in the form of a sermon, an exemplum, to be exact. He intends to teach the congregation that "love of money is the root of all evil" and that "consequences of sin is death." The symbolic function of The Old Man is debatable; is he, for instance "Death's messenger", Death himself, or a satanic figure who tempts, much in the fashion of the Devil as serpent in the Adam and Ever story. The story is made even more complex and ironic by the disreputable character of the Pardoner as narrator....   [tags: Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer Essays] 680 words
(1.9 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: Exploring Injustice in the Knight's Tale Essay - In "The Ending of 'Troilus,'" E. Talbot Donaldson writes in response to the conclusion of the "Knight’s Tale," one of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, "What it does suggest…is that Providence is not working justly." Though Donaldson correctly points out the fact that the "Knight’s Tale" ends in injustice, he confuses the role of sin in the injustice with the role of God. He asserts that God is to blame for the injustice in the "Knight's Tale" rather than exploring the role of human sinfulness. The Knight, an honorable, generous, courteous, and noble member of a party of twenty-nine people on a pilgrimage to the English town of Canterbury during the Middle Ages, tells his tale as part of a storyte...   [tags: Chaucer Canterbury Tales Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1533 words
(4.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]