The Canterbury Tales: Clerk and Monk

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The Contrasting Characters:
The Monk and The Clerk of Oxford

The Monk and the Clerk are two characters lying in opposite extremities. What one person lacks, the other has gained in abundance. This essay will explore the major differences between the Clerk and Monk in the Canterbury Tales; its focus mainly pointed to physical descriptions, differences in personality and the underlying themes in their tales of sacrifice and betrayal. Chaucer the pilgrim is quite keen on both of these opposite characters in respect to their attitudes.

The Monk is a merry man who has a portly body and not an inch of hair on his head and is explained as attractive. His love for fine jewellery is presented with the gold he wears on his body, including the gold pin with a love-knot in it, which will be examined later. His love for food can be noticed by the weight he carries. His easy-going nature is quite darkened with the tragic tales he tells on his journey to Canterbury. The Monk owns several horses in perfect condition and the finest riding equipment, showing more signs of his wealth apart from his refined clothing.

The Clerk is quite opposite from these physical details; he is quite thin from being underfed and not having enough money to feed himself properly. He is shabbily dressed. His horse is as thin as the Clerk himself. The Clerk is poor, as a student spending more time reading for learning purposes rather than gaining money.

The Monk displays some curious habits as a religious figure. His hobby is to hunt, which is against the morals of his profession. His rich clothing and appetite for good food are contrary to the rule of poverty that monks are known to be in. He has no patience for the rules that confine monks to study or labour, he is therefore rebellious and disobedient. The gold pin that he dons with a love knot implies that he has broken his vow of chastity towards his...
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