How does the nun in "The Canterbury Tales" reveal that she is a hypocrite?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

She also wears red stockings, has gapped teeth (known in Chaucer's time to indicate insatiable sexual cravings), red lips, and a little coral locket engraved "Love conquers all".  With her flirtatious ways, her dress and her red lips which may or may not be helped along with berries or lip stain, her locket is most likely interpreted as a woman who doesn't completely adhere to the vow of chastity that a nun should take.  She has proven she is much more in to appearances than she should be--her flashy apparel, her French, her table manners, her knowledge of courtly behavior--so perhaps vanity can also be added to the list of flaws that this nun has to overcome.  She is not what you would expect a nun to be.

lit24 | Student

The Prioress was so tender hearted that she would weep if she saw a mouse caught in a trap. She fed her pet pups with the finest delicacies and she would weep bitterly if one of them died or if someone beat them with a stick.

The fact that there is no mention of her pitying or feeding the poor starving destitutes in her parish is ample proof of her hypocrisy. Chaucer emphasises her hypocrisy by not mentioning a single charitable deed of hers towards human beings, but by foregrounding sarcastically her excessive pity for rats which are actually pests responsible for spreading the deadly plague during the medieval age.

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The Canterbury Tales

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