General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales Questions and Answers
by Geoffrey Chaucer

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Was Chaucer in favor of the church or opposed to it?  

After we read "the General Prologue" to the Canterbury Tales, we might think that Geoffrey Chaucer does not have a favorable opinion of the church as an institution. He compares the friar Huberd to a "master of arts or a pope." This could suggest that the pope is "artful" or evasive and deceitful. Elsewhere, he tells of an ecclesiast who seems more concerned with the church's finances than the spiritual growth of its worshipers.

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After we read "the General Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales, we might think that Geoffrey Chaucer does not have a favorable opinion of the church as an institution. We should, though, keep in mind that this is a poem. It's not a pamphlet or an essay explicitly criticizing the church. Although, once again, if we think of how church figures are used in the "Prologue," it's hard to say that they come off in a complimentary light.

Let's look at how Chaucer describes the friar Huberd. Chaucer says he's like a "lyk a maister or a pope" or "a master of arts or a pope." We might want to think about why Chaucer pairs the pope with a "master of arts." Art has multiple meanings. The more common meaning is something creative or relatively high-minded. Paintings are called art, so are certain kinds of music and films. Yet art can also be cunning and deceptive. Think about the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist . We might wonder if Chaucer is trying to tell us that there's also something deceitful and evasive...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 716 words.)

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sounpaik | Student

He opposed it.

anujumairah | Student

Alteration to the first post :: It's magnum opus. ;)

paiblauer | Student

Chaucer, in the general prologue of his mangum opus, "The Canterbury Tales," criticizes the Church and insinuates that it is corrupt. Chaucer sketches two characters, the Monk and the Friar, who would traditionally be considered holy, and denegrates them. In line 221, Chaucer describes the Friar as a man who "knew the tavernes wel in every town, And every innkeeper and barmaid, Better than a leper or a female beggar.” This quotation demonizes the Friar and equates him with the morally bankrupt - i.e. the heavy drinkers in society who had lascivious encounters with many women around town. Chaucer is critical of the church and opposed to the hypocrisy he believes it exemplifies.