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What good or honorable church people does Chaucer include to balance his satire in The...

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isma92 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 21, 2009 at 2:09 PM via web

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What good or honorable church people does Chaucer include to balance his satire in The Canterbury Tales?

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted September 21, 2009 at 8:32 PM (Answer #1)

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Chaucer likes the Parson.  In his description of him in the General Prologue, he says that the parson knew his gospel and preached it devoutly.  He gave the church offerings to the poor.  He never neglected a parishoner in need no matter what the weather.  The Parson preached the belief that if the parishoners cannot trust and believe in their parish priest, or any man of God, then the parishoners cannot be expected to lead a good life when they aren't shown an example by their priest.  Chaucer goes on to say that the Parson did not give himself airs nor did he give himself any comforts.  The Parson was completely devoted to serving God and his parishoners.  Clearly this was what Chaucer felt all clergy should be like.  He shows us early in the GP, all the faults of the clergy through characters like the Monk, the Prioress, the Friar and then later, in the tales themselves, with the Canon and those who worked for the church (but were not clergy) - the Summoner and the Pardoner.  There are no other clergy that Chaucer likes and talks about at length besides the Parson.  The nuns who are with the Prioress are barely mentioned and another priest is given a tale to tell but is not described at length in the General Prologue.  Those clergy are given neither a positive nor a negative description.

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