Values And Characteristics In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

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The character details that Geoffrey Chaucer’s narrator focuses on, in his descriptions of the pilgrims in “The Canterbury Tales”, provide an insight into the values and ideals that he held in esteem. The story is framed from the point of view of a narrator; who is not explicitly Chaucer but, presumably, shares many of his predilections and persuasions. The pilgrims are described in varying degrees of detail, less than ten lines for the Cook and more than forty for the Summoner, but nonetheless, the narrator ensures that his audience has a solid grasp on how he feels about each character. Without outwardly condemning or praising either character, the narrator describes both the Clerk and the Pardoner’s relationship with money to paint a favorable…show more content…
The narrator explains, “For he hadde getten him yit no benefice,/ Ne was so worldly for to have office…/Yit hadde he but litel gold in cofre/ but al that he mighte of his freends hente,/ On bookes and on lerning he it spente” (293-302 Chaucer). This Clerk has no secular job, or an intention to get one it seems, and is fully consumed with his learning. The money he does have, he spends on books and schooling. This description, of the Clerk’s potential money and potential ways to take advantage of his scholarship, makes the reader feel that the narrator would not be too upset if the Clerk did indeed do just that. The positive feelings the narrator has created are due in a large part to the way other characters are described…show more content…
The narrator describes a host of fake relics that the Pardoner keeps in his bag. He uses these counterfeit items and his position with the papacy to take advantage of the simple people he meets on his journeys. Chaucer’s narrator explains that, “Upon a day he gat him more moneye/ than that the person gat in monthes twaye;/ And thus with feined flaterye and japes/ he made the person and the peple his apes” (705-708 Chaucer). That is to say, this Pardoner makes more in a day showing off fake relics and holy symbols than a parson makes in more than a month. The narrator does not say that he finds this offensive outright, he merely details his observation. He does imply that there is a fair bit of impropriety to the Pardoner’s actions though, especially by describing the commoners as the Pardoner’s “apes”. Additionally, the narrator provides a left handed compliment of the Pardoner. In regards to that character’s singing in church the narrator says that, “ He was… a noble ecclesiaste/…He moste preche and wel afflie his tonge/ to win silver, as he ful wel coude” (710- 715 Chaucer). The compliment is that the Pardoner sings well, but the implication is that he only performs out of concern for silver and with no adoration of God at all. Without calling the
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