The Canterbury Tales Questions and Answers
by Geoffrey Chaucer

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How is the Clerk an idealistic character in the Canterbury Tales?

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Chaucer's Canterbury Tales presents us with characters that directly contrast each other in terms of lifestyle, philosophy, and background. In the case of the clerk, we find that Chaucer strategically places him in between two money-hungry, cold, and calculating men: The Squire and the Law Man.

We know that the clerk is a poor student from Oxford. He dresses quite humbly because of his lack of money. His youth and education have turned him into quite a deep thinker whose philosophy goes against the acquisition of material goods.

The clerk advocates for a conscious and temperate way of life. This is part of his idealism because it is obvious that no other character seems to be in tandem with his characteristics. When he is summoned to tell a tale, he is even mocked about his appearance, and...

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