Comment on Chaucer's portrayal of the religious officials/characters in "The General Prologue" of The Canterbury Tales.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In general, Chaucer has very little respect for the religious characters in the prologue.  The one exception to this is the Parson.  What that means is that Chaucer has mostly bad things to say about the religious who are removed from the people.  He respects the Parson because that character actually works with people rather than being higher up in the Church.

What you should look for in the parts of the Prologue that describe these characters is evidence that Chaucer does not think that they are mainly concerned with God and helping others. You can see an example of this where he talks about how much the Prioress likes to eat and how fine her clothes are.  You can see another example where he talks about how the Monk goes hunting all the time and has lots of really nice horses.

By contrast, all he says about the Parson is positive.  This shows that he only respected religious people who were actually caring for the common people.  He thought that the more "important" Church people were really not very Christian and were living rich and easy lives instead of working hard to help others the way they were supposed to.

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The Canterbury Tales

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