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by Geoffrey Chaucer

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What was Chaucer's method of satirizing the Prioress in The Canterbury Tales?  

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There are at least two layers of satire in Chaucer’s description of the Prioress. First, like the other clerical characters; the Monk and the Friar, the Summoner and the Pardoner (though not the devout and humble Parson), the Prioress is shown to be more concerned with worldly matters than with her religious duties. Her clothes and jewelry are described in some detail, as are her table manners. She has a retinue of little dogs which she feeds with roast meat and cake, a better diet than many people enjoyed in fourteenth-century England. Besides her pampered dogs, she has another nun, a chaplain and three priests traveling with her, altogether quite a stately procession, demonstrating her high position, like her clothes and jewels.

Beyond the inappropriate luxury of her lifestyle, however, there is another level to Chaucer’s satire. The Prioress is trying to act like an aristocrat rather than a nun, but she is not very successful at doing so. Her table manners are ironically praised by...

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