The Nun’s Priest’s Tale
In the allegorical poem The Nun’s Priest’s Tale taken from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, sophisticated subjects—such as the meaning of dreams and the concept of free will—are discussed amongst the characters. However, despite the advanced philosophical nature of the discussion between the characters, the narrator depicts them as barn animals, which are not usually the type of creatures that are normally associated with intelligence. This interesting arrangement automatically raises a few questions especially in reference to the choice of the narrator to discuss such scholarly topics which such typically ignorant animals. Having an intellectual conversation in the form of barn animals allows Chaucer to mock the issues within the historical context of the time in a way that somewhat disguises his thoughts as being playful and innocent, although deep down his the satirical nature of this poem is clear and harsh. In addition, the farm animal allegory also allows the ‘Priest’ character to hide behind a mask of his own as he ridicules the apparent hubris of the ‘Host’ character.
It is important to note that Geoffrey Chaucer was born in England in the 14th century (The Literature Network), which was a time of great controversy among the Christian Church. Its was at the time of the Great Schism which took place after the Black Plague, so an overall doubt in religion as a whole in addition to controversial practices by the Church such as indulgences and sponsored pilgrimages to false relics stirred up an abundance of skepticism regarding the topic of Christianity. The concept of Christianity is very clear in prologue to The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, and the characters of the Canterbury Tales are in fact on a religious pilgrimage, which automatically sets the tone for the poem as having a religious nature or at least a reference. This piece was written at a time where Christianity was not only accepted but...
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