The Parson, in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

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Corruption of the Church, Minus One
Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales tells of a pilgrimage with an interesting twist. The Canterbury Tales gives the reader a different take on the lifestyles of the people living in the late fourteenth century. The journey begins and ends in the Tabard Inn near London, on the road to Canterbury. Each of the twenty-nine pilgrims divulged their life stories, hoping to win a prize while journeying on to Canterbury, the final destination to visit the martyr, St. Thomas a Beckett. In the introduction, the narrator, a naïve, but slightly prejudiced storyteller, introduces each pilgrim, describing in detail, their many professions and ways of dress and life. His accounts of the pilgrims reflect the corruption of the church in the Monk, Friar, and Pardoner’s descriptions.

The only devout churchman in the company, the Parson lives in poverty, but is rich in holy thoughts and deeds. The Parson represents the church and devotes his life to servitude and poverty, as opposed to the lavish and grandeur-filled lives of the other members of the church. The pastor of a sizable town, the Parson preaches the Gospel and makes sure to practice what he preaches. He is everything that the Monk, the Friar, and the Pardoner are not.

The Canterbury Tales presents an interesting take on the many different lifestyles and occupations of medieval England. From the corruption in the church (the Monk, Nun, and Friar), to the well-respected Parson and Oxford scholar, from the noble, but humble Knight to his copious son, the Squire, each pilgrim has a tale and Chaucer allows for a reader to learn about their lives.
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