Chaucer's Revelation of Corruption in the Medieval Catholic Church

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Corrupt and deceitful practices run among the Church’s clergy. Selfish acts such as the selling of indulgences occur all over. Many ignorant people buy into these lies and become the victims of the corrupt clergy of the Church. Author Geoffrey Chaucer shows how he views the Church in his acclaimed work The Canterbury Tales. In the book, Chaucer mentions how many people who are associated to the church take advantage of common people. Such exemplar characters of the book are The Pardoner and The Summoner. Both men are men of god and they use that to cheat others out of their money. With this in mind, Chaucer’s negative view of the Church is shown from the influence it had in medieval society.

Likewise, one such example of the corruption the Church influenced on medieval society is The Pardoner. This man is portrayed as being a greedy fellow who uses the word of god to get a hold of other people’s money. He goes from town to town and robs people’s money in one of the most deceitful ways possible. The pardoner even tells them at first but they forget this warning later:

‘But let me briefly make my purpose plain;

I preach for nothing but for greed or gain

…………………………………………….

I make my living out of—avarice. (97-98, 102)

He tells them mind boggling tales to persuade the people he encounters. Then he promises for their sins to be forgiven if they purchase some of his relics which are completely false:

My holy pardon frees you all of this,

…………………………………….

Into the bliss of heaven you shall go.

For I’ll absolve you by my holy power,

……………………………………….

If there be one among you that is willing

To have my absolution for a shilling (586, 592-593, 603-604)

Most of the people who hear this pardoner, due ...

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... anyone but themselves and getting money. Such is the case with the pardoner who tricks people into buying his false relics. He knows those relics have no power at all but he uses them to take advantage of the ignorant. The pardoner even tells them that he takes advantage of others before he persuades them into buying his relics. Other fellow clergy do corrupt actions as well such as the friar who asked for money. He does not ask common folk for money, but mostly rich people. He does not care about getting money for the Church. He just wants it all for himself. That is why he only hangs around with the rich and not the poor. During these times many people have no proper education and are very gullible. This is a reason why the church takes advantage of them. Without a doubt, these characters are a reason why Chaucer has a negative view towards the Church.

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