Members of Religious Orders:What are some examples of how Chaucer presents different views of different members of religious orders in the Prologue?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During Chaucer's time (14th century), there was a practice called the law of primogeniture; only the firstborn son could inherit an estate. So few opportunities were open to younger sons. They could become knights and hope to be awarded land, or they could might become merchants, or they could go into the church. For that reason, there were many people in the church who weren't there to serve God but because they had no other choice. Chaucer paints a picture of the medieval church as being full of corruption and hypocrisy.

Friar: friars were independent of monasteries and went from place to place to preach. He seems more concerned with making a profit than saving people.

The Summoner: He serves summons to people who have committed crimes against the church, such as not paying a toll. He is not against taking bribes and will look the other way if he likes the guilty person.

The Pardoner: He would hear a person's confession, prescribe a prayer or practice for atonement, and then charge a fee to pardon the sin. He would convince gullible people that they had committed some awful sin and that they must pay him to have God pardon them.

The Parson: He was a parish priest and seems genuine in his service to God and love for his people.

The Prioress: She was the head of a convent. She was wants people to believe she is nobility, but her refinements are artificial. She is wearing a broach engraved with "all things are subject unto love."

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The Canterbury Tales

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