What in Your Opinion, Is Chaucer’s View of the “Religious” Characters in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales?

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What in your opinion, is Chaucer’s view of the “religious” characters in The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales? Chaucer began to write The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales in 1387 when England was a Catholic state. Chaucer, a strong believer of his faith became aware that the Catholic church was becoming corrupt. He saw that over time, it was becoming ironically more greedy, among other sins, which are of course strongly prohibited by the religion. Thus, The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales is about Chaucer’s view of how the Catholic Church was becoming more corrupt. It consists of a number of tales which were used to criticise the Church, on how it functioned and what it did. It was supposed to damage the Church prompting change on its actions which helped bring about the Reformation. The story is set on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. The first ‘religious’ character we come across is the Prioress, the Head of the Nunnery who held the fourth rank of the hierarchy to the Church. This authority and job held her responsible for ensuring that the other nuns would grow up to become the flawless, diligent ‘Bride of Christ’, being absent of all sins. She is a lustful, feisty figure who has an overwhelming hunger for men, which is of course a violation of her vows to celibacy. Chaucer uses her sinful being to show the corruption of the Church. Her actions will be passed on to the other nuns leading to the future generation of nuns to possess sinful manors, and will gradually become a trait of all nuns. Chaucer goes on to describe her epicurean habits. Being a prioress, she is supposed to do a number of duties but it seems that she has a bigger interest in etiquette. It is mentioned that the prioress is also indulging herself with casual sex, which is strictly forbidden as she is ‘married to Christ’. Chaucer goes in to say she cares for animals, ‘she wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde’, but then is mentioned that she no longer cares for the mouse as if one of her dogs feeding upon it were to die. She is fickle, ‘or if men smoot it with a verde smerte’. She would completely expose her facial features revealing her beauty, ‘ful seemely hir wimpul pinched was, hir nose tretis, hir eyen greye as glas, hir mouth ful small, and therto softe and reed; but sikerly she hadde a fair forheed’. It is apparent that she is trying to make herself look attractive. Chaucers says that she has a high forehead, which supposedly back then was favourable. All this information we are given implies that the prioress often meets with a man (or possibly men) which is peculiar as a prioress rarely met someone of the opposite sex. Chaucer adds that she wears coral, gold and green beads on her arm, ‘of small coral aboute hire arm she bar, a piere of bedes, gauded al with grene, and then theron heng a brooch of gold ful sheene’, all goods of which another person would have given her. On the gold chain is the phrase ‘love conquers all’, which suggests she might have been in a relationship. Our second character is the monk, portrayed as an insensitive and selfish person in his job, as he sees it fit to spend more time on his own interest than that of which he should actually be doing. The monk’s sense of poor duty is seen in the second line, ‘an outridere, that lovede venerie’, which suggests that he is either hunting or hunting for sex, as he is seen to pursue sensual pleasure. The monk is disobedient to the monasteries principles and thinks that the bible is rubbish, he wants to create a new type of monk where the doctrine of the church is altered to suit the life of a more sinful monk, ‘and heeld after the newe world the space’. The monk mentions that he wants to be an abbot, higer up the ranking ladder to which Chaucer writes, ‘ but thile text heeld he nat worth an oystre’. What Chaucer is saying is that the monk is not worth anymore than an oyster, which were cheap and abundant, Chaucer...
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