Canterbury Tales - the Monk

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Canterbury Tales: The Monk

Corruption under pretence of purity within the Catholic Church has been an ongoing issue dating father back than anyone can remember. During the medieval times, the Catholic Church had become widely notorious for hypocrisy, abuse of clerical power and the compromise of morality throughout. Geoffrey Chaucer made a fine and somewhat darkly comical example of this through The Monk, from the Canterbury Tales. The Monk is enlisting in a pilgrimage maybe for his love of riding, or to further line his pockets while pardoning people for their sins. According to the main four orders of friars in the Middle Ages, monks are supposed t take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The contents of this essay clearly suggest The Monk does not particularly care for these vows and is more interested in riding and taking money for his own indulgences.

The Monk is first introduced as “a fair for the maistrie.”(Line 165), already claiming he is above the average person’s importance. The Monk is then explained as having a deep love of riding, which is usually a rich man’s hobby, and definitely not that of a supposed humble and simple Monk who should be known for staying within the walls of the cloister and devoted to books and prayer. Referring to St. Benedict’s Rule of basically praying and working, The Monk pays his rule no heed thus giving the idea of a somewhat careless, selfish Monk. The Monk is further described as this in the following passage:

“What sholde he studie and make hymselven wood
Upon a book in cloystre alwey to pour
Or swynken with his hands and laboure
As Austin bit? How shal the world be served?
Lat Austyn have his owene swynk to hym reserved!” (Lines 184-188)

The Monk shamelessly indulged in his out-of-character hobbies such as riding by dressing richly for it with lined sleeves, expensive gray fur and a gold pin fastened under his chin. He wore a double breasted cloak with a Flemish beaver...
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