How does the Friar catch girls, what is he qualified to do, what are his credentials, and what people should he be serving?Who does he prefer to see? What does he get from the widows?

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Friar, though he is a representative of the Church, is not a particularly godly man.  In fact, he lives primarily for his own passions and pleasures with little concern for the poor and needy.

He is a Friar and should not be catching girls at all; however, he is able to do so because he is exceptionally good at "small talk and flattery."  In fact, he  often had to arrange (and pay for) marriages for the young women he seduced in order to cover up his own sins.  He always had gifts for pretty wives and could sing and play the fiddle beautifully. He was obviously a  Medieval "ladies man." 

He was qualified to hear confession, a "licentiate."  But, when his rich constituents confessed their sins to him, "how pleasant was his absolution."  He was an easy man at confession "when he was sure of getting a substantial gift." 

As a man of God, he should have been serving the poor, the lepers, and "that sort of trash"; instead, he kept company either with barmaids and innkeepers or the rich merchants in each town. He was unconcerned about those who most needed help.

From a poor widow, who "might not even own a shoe," he would "win her farthing in the end" because he greeted her so pleasantly and unctuously. 

The "Prologue" contains many more indictments against this supposed man of God; however, these particular issues define the Friar as the self-sentered man he has chosen to be.


Read the study guide:
The Canterbury Tales

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question