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The Canterbury Tales is a poetic story of a group of people, who were going to pilgrimage. They were going to the tomb of St. Thomas a Bechet in Canterbury, which is about sixty miles from London in England. In that group, there were clergy and laity people. And in the poem Chaucer described all of them so well that we can easily see the picture of how they lived and how they behaved in manners of work and other ways of life. And while he was describing, he also criticized some members of the clergy position, because of their abusing of their position and doing things that they were not supposed to do, or not doing something they were supposed to do in their position. Among those people whom Chaucer criticized very much were the Friar and the Pardoner.
In the medieval society, where people were very religious, illiterate and superstitious, the Friar was respected as God himself. The Friar’s job in the church was to help people, who committed crime, by giving them a guide to pray for a certain time so that they can receive absolution. But the Friar in the Canterbury Tales was not honest and dedicated in doing his job. He abused his position by taking money from people who came to confess. He told them that they would get absolution if they pay him and thus broke the vow of obedience because it is against the Catholic Church. He broke the vow of chastity by having adulterous relationships with other women. By wearing expensive clothes, spending his time with wealthy people rather than helping beggars or sick lepers, he broke the vow of poverty.
The Pardoner is a person who says prayer for dead people so that the sins they had committed in life would be forgiven. The Pardoner of The Canterbury Tales abused his position by selling some papers which he claimed if people bought, their time in purgatory would be shortened after death; he sold them for very high price. He also claimed that he had Virgin Mary’s veil, which would have been 1330 years after Mary died. He also claimed that he had St. Peter’s sail and said the pig bones, he always carried with him, were relics of St. Peter. Chucer also criticized him by implying him as a homosexual by referring him to a gelding or a mare.
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Nowadays, it sounds almost impossible, that someone like Friar would take money from people for confession or like the Pardoner, would sell pardons. Because people today are not so superstitious anymore that someone would just deceive them in that way. The light of education has given them the power to think clearly and scientifically. But this is in Western countries, where most of the people are educated. The situation is not the same in my country, where a large number of people are still illiterate. They are so ignorant and credulous that people like Friar or Pardoner can easily deceive them. In the village, where I used to live in my country, most of the people were uneducated farmers. And there was a man in that village who claimed himself to be the saint from Allah (God), and said that if people pay him, he would pray for them, which would give them a better chance of having a good harvest. Unfortunately, most of the people believe him and pay a certain amount of their income every month, even though it is very hard for those poor people. And there is no hope that the situation would change, until there a big change occurs, until they are blessed by the light of education.