Nicholas, the student boarder at the house of John, wants to sleep with Alison because he admires her beauty and elegance; and uses his knowledge of religion as his main tool in achieving his goal. Nicholas had come up with a plan. Nicholas told Alison to tell John that he was ill and lay in his room until the carpenter sent his slave to check on Nicholas’s health. The slave saw Nicholas’s eyes gaping upward as if possessed and called to the carpenter, who panicked and attributed Nicholas’ state to his profession in astrology. John thought Nicholas had seen the secrets of God and gone mad. John ordered his slave to wake Nicholas from his trance. Nicholas promised to tell John about what he had learned in heaven and John was shocked as Nicholas told him that next Monday, a flood similar to Noah’s flood would occur. Surreptitiously, Nicholas and Alison plan to desert their tubs when the carpenter falls asleep so that they can sleep together without the carpenter’s knowing. Nicholas uses the absurd story about the return of the flood as his main tool of removing the carpenter from the arrangement and having the opportunity to sleep with Alison. When John is sleeping in his tub, Alison and N...
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...imited knowledge of religion is what led him to accept Nicholas’s story and his subsequent humiliation in society.
Their use of religion is the reason for the success or failure of all three male characters’ objectives. The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories that were told during a pilgrimage to St. Thomas’s Tomb in Canterbury and a religious undertone was present throughout the stories. The life of people in late 1400s was heavily based around religion and religious institutions were in control of every aspect of life and people believed these institutions without any questions. This is similar to John’s thinking and naïve belief in Nicholas’s story. The religious institutions are not as powerful today as they were in the Middle Ages. Today, stories of the Great Flood would be struck down quickly due to the advances in science, technology, and education.
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