The Prioress of The Canterbury Tales


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The Prioress of The Canterbury Tales

 

In the poem, by Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer depicts the people of the church and describes them as people who are not the sole embodiment of people who have sworn themselves to God, and to live by the four vows that the church requires them to commit themselves to. The Prioress, a Nun, is no exception, but Chaucer does not directly say how she represents the four vows but rather it is what he does not say that leads people to believe the Prioress is the exact opposite of what is expected of a nun that has committed herself to the four vows.

 

Men and women of the church are expected to live in poverty and hold no worldly possessions. The Prioress spoke of owning little dogs, which is strictly prohibited in a convent, and treating them exceptionally well and being extremely attached to them. By owing these dogs she violated the vow of poverty but the most apparent item that she owns is a gold broche that and leads the reader to believe that she was not entirely devoted to the church.

 

Chaucer spent a great deal of time explaining how she was extremely obsessed with her etiquette, that hints to the reader that she is more suited to be a beloved lady rather than a nun. In the days of Chaucer, women used excellent etiquette to attract and keep lovers. This indicates that the Prioress in not completely faithful to her vow of chastity, but rather a woman of promiscuity.

 

The vow of obedience, in reference to the Prioress, is probably the most odd vow of the four, since he never mentions it. While Chaucer is describing the Prioress he never once mentions how she serves God or nothing of that sort. This leaves the reader wondering if she serves God well or does not, but it is obvious that she has failed to follow the other vows and that this one is no exception.

 

A nun should pray, study, do service to God, and live a confined life free from temptation, but the Prioress has already violated the first three vows and those have to be followed to successful fulfill the vow of obedience.

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It is obvious that she does not pray everyday since Chaucer never mentions it and her service to God. She is not obedient to the Rule of order because she acts as an individual rather than a servant to God.

 

Chaucer explained the Prioress's etiquette, appearance, and her possessions. With that knowledge the reader can conclude that the Prioress does not live a sheltered life or a life that is solely dedicated to the service of God. It can be easily said that she has violated every vow, but Chaucer never comes out and say it straight forward. He leaves it up to the reader to decide how they picture the Prioress.

 


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