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Power and Corruption in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

analytical Essay
1558 words
1558 words
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The Canterbury Tales is a very popular and well known set of stories, written by Geoffrey Chaucer. This collection of stories is great entertainment and some even provide very good moral lessons; most of these stories show the contempt Chaucer had for the Church of England which had control at the time over most of England. Chaucer’s bias towards the corruption of the Church is best demonstrated in the Pardoner’s Prologue, in contradiction with the Parson’s Tale, and the level of power within the Church structure. These are two of the stories of the many that are in The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer uses the Pardoner as a high level leader who is corrupt and yet enables him to convert the sinners even if he does it for personal gain. While the Parson is of lower standing in the Church, he is not corrupt, and gives the message to the pilgrims so that they might be forgiven.
The Church in the 1400’s was the center of everyone’s life and a peasant’s life was the hardest to live. The Church convinced everyone that if they broke the rules their soul would be damned. One of the rules was to devote time to the church where peasants would give hours of free labor in the churches’ fields instead of working on their own land to feed their family (“The Medieval Church”). The Church would gather tithes of food and money from every person and store them in a tithe barn where the food would rot or be poisoned by rats (“The Medieval Church”).
The tithes from the people were what made the Church so wealthy (“The Medieval Church”). With wealth and power, and the fear of damnation, the Church was able to be as corrupt as it wanted because there was no one to stop them. Because of this corruption in the Church, a man by the name of Geoffrey Chaucer bec...

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In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the canterbury tales is a popular and well-known set of stories, written by geoffrey chaucer.
  • Explains that the church in the 1400s was the center of everyone's life and a peasant’s lives were the hardest to live. the church convinced everyone that if they broke the rules their soul would be damned
  • Explains that the tithes from the people were what made the church so wealthy. with wealth and power, and the fear of damnation, the church was able to be as corrupt as it wanted.
  • Explains that chaucer came from a semi-wealthy family in the feudal system, so his father got him into an ecclesiastical household. he kept tax books and learned the ways of the upper class.
  • Explains that greenblatt's association with the court implies that he helped bridge the gap between the middle and upper class, and alleviate the feudal system.
  • Narrates how the diplomat wrote many pieces of literature during his time in office, mostly about love and romance. he later started writing what he hoped would be his biggest work: a framed narrative.
  • Explains that the canterbury tales was supposed to be a work of one hundred and twenty stories; each pilgrim would tell two stories on the way to and from canterbury to entertain everyone as they traveled.
  • Analyzes how chaucer uses the pardoner's prologue to show the corruption of the church, through their display of wealth and privilege.
  • Analyzes how the prologue shows the corruption and heresies of the pardoner. he uses his skills in trickery to get people to repent and pay dues to him.
  • Analyzes how the pardoner is like the magician who explains his act to the audience and yet is still able to amaze them. he tricks them into repenting and buying the false relics.
  • Analyzes how chaucer shows that the pardoner is happy to be openly sinning, even boasting of how he is able to use his skills for greed.
  • Analyzes how the pardoner convinces the people to repent for their sins by buying fake relics, in order to satisfy his own sin of greed.
  • Analyzes how chaucer uses the parson as the ideal image of how a righteous church official should act.
  • Analyzes how the parson's "tale" is a prayer or penance, whereas other stories show corruption. since he has no power, there would be nothing to benefit from being corrupt.
  • Analyzes how the parson knows that god is the truth, and that 'we' should not waste our time on worldly things, but look towards the path that leads to him.
  • Analyzes how chaucer, at the end of his life, feels that he has wronged god in his writing, and thus retracts his works. the parson tale is the "least read" due to its straightforward treatise on repentance and sin.
  • Analyzes how chaucer, being in high standing with the court, sees the corruption taking place and chooses to point it out by writing a novel showing the religious corruption.
  • Analyzes how chaucer uses the contrast of the pardoner and parson to show the effects of rank, acts of corruption, and righteous being between the two.
  • Cites the work "the medieval church." the geoffrey chaucer page.
  • Narrates chaucer's presentation of the church in the canterbury tales.
  • Explains that chaucer's "worste shrewe: the pardoner." modern language quarterly 20.3(1959): 211.
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