In The Canterbury Tales, what "good," or honorable, Church people does Chaucer include to balance his satire of the Church of his time?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Among Chaucer's characters of the Church, the Prioress and the Parson are most admirable. Although the Prioress is a bit affected in her manners, perhaps in an attempt to live up to the dignity of her position, she is nevertheless a sweet personality whose motto is "Love conquers all." Chaucer describes her as "pleasant and friendly," a woman with a heart so tender she would weep at the sight of an animal suffering, even a mouse in a trap.

The Parson, unlike the greedy Pardoner, is poor in worldly goods but "rich in holy thought and work." The Parson lives his faith:

He also was a learned man, a clerk,

Who truly knew Christ's gospel and would preach it

Devoutly to parishioners, and teach it.

Furthermore, the Parson did not like to take money from his poor parishioners; he instead gave to them from what little he had. Even though his parish was large, the Parson never failed to call upon those "in sickness or in grief," despite "rain or thunder." Chaucer sums up the goodness of the Parson in these lines:

Christ and His Twelve Apostles and their lore

He taught, but followed it himself before.

Unlike the despicable Pardoner, the Parson practices what he preaches. He is truly a devout Christian among the pilgrims.

Read the study guide:
The Canterbury Tales

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