Essay about The Canterburry Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

Essay about The Canterburry Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

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Chaucer lived in a time of great flux. His world was not only different from the world of his parents and grandparents; it was different from the one that he grew up in himself. The Black Plague had decimated the population and created voids in the labor force. The 100 Year’s War was ongoing and required countless men and resources to continue. Traditions, customs and rituals were questioned as society changed. The divisions within social strata were blurring and the organization of Europe was changing. Because of this enormous change on all fronts, no one had the ability to predict what would come in the future. It was this context in which Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, so it’s no wonder why he wrote his poem about a group of people who are in a transitory phase, a pilgrimage, which is completely different from their day to day existences. The three pillars or estates of society, the nobility, the Catholic Church and the peasants were changing and competing for a stronger foundation within society. Chaucer took the opportunity to comment on all of the estates in his poem, especially the Church. His keen insight allowed him to differentiate between the rules and the actors within Catholicism, and it appears that he was able to see the virtue of religion as well as the corruption within it.
The Canterbury Tales is about a religious journey, a Catholic pilgrimage to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket. Chaucer does not disparage the mission itself; rather he seems to uphold the value of such an expedition, even though he may question the motives of the individuals who are taking this journey. I believe that the major point that Chaucer was trying to advance was that the beliefs, rites, and customs of the Cath...


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... glance into Peasants and the Church, as the King did have authority over the land. It is clear, from reading “The Canterbury Tales,” that Chaucer did feel that the Catholic Church was a great institution which had established a hierarchy that could function well with the right people involved. He felt that many people, especially on a local level, were using their position to enrich themselves; the public be damned. He, for the most part did not criticize Rome or the Pope for the Church’s problems, with one major exception, the Crusades. I believe that the Knight’s introduction in the “General Prologue” spoke loudly against the Crusades. Overall, Chaucer’s criticism was with the local overreaching representatives of the Church, rather than the Church itself, which is why he treats the individuals with distain, but he criticizes the Church with a velvet glove.

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