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The Cantaberry Tales Prologue Essay

1602 words - 7 pages

The General Prologue In "The General Prologue" of The Canterbury Tales Chaucer introduces the reader to the characters in the story through the eyes of the narrator. However, the narrator does not seem to be very demanding when it comes to judging people's characters. This can be clearly seen as the Friar's and the Parson's descriptions are compared and contrasted. Though both of them are at one point or another described as worthy or good men, they are obviously very different in their attitude toward wealth, willingness to sacrifice their morals for profit, and their behavior toward others. While the Pastor is consistently portrayed as a good man throughout the whole ...view middle of the document...

As a result he learns to live with what he has without wishing for more, as can be seen when the narrator says, "He coulde in litel thing han suffisaunce" (Chaucer, 15). The Friar on the other hand places a large value on gold. He does not pray solely for the sake of praying, but he does so because he knows that "in stede of wepinge and preyeres,/Men moot yeve silver to the pover freres"(Chaucer, 8). He performs many duties that he is obligated to do by his profession solely for the sake of profit, hoping to be given silver or gold in return for his "work". Unlike the Pastor, the Friar is unable to live with only the necessities. He needs luxuries, and that is why he has to solicit money. This can be seen as the narrator says, "His purchas was wel bettre than his rente"(Chaucer, 9), pointing out that the Friar made more money from his begging than he did from working for the church. Yet, the narrator does not seem to feel that the above characteristics make one man better than the other in any way. The Parson and the Friar also differ in their willingness to sacrifice their beliefs and services for the sake of profit. While the Parson is willing to go to great lengths for the sake of fulfilling his duties, the Friar is willing to go to the same, if not greater lengths for the sake of turning a profit. Whereas the Pastor performs his duties toward the people that need him, he is not doing it for profit, as can be seen through his behavior in this section of the book. "He sette nat is benefice to hyre" (Chaucer, 15) knowing that hiring himself out might bring him more money, but would not help the people that he is set on helping. As a result, he does not seek a position where he would earn more money and live comfortably. Instead he decides to stay with his parishioners not willing to "leet his sheep encombred in the myre" (Chaucer, 15). The Friar, on the other hand, is willing to sacrifice some of the principles of his profession for the sake of making a profit. This can be seen as the Friar is willing to grant atonement if he knows that he will get some kind of reimbursement for it. For example, on lines 223-224, the narrator says, "He was an esy man to yeve penaunce/Ther as he wiste to have a good pitaunce" (Chaucer, 8). This shows the Friar as a man who would forgive anybody any sin if they provide sufficient reimbursement for his troubles. However, by doing so the Friar is not only selling out the principles of the church that he works for, he is also committing a sin himself. He, and officer of the church, a person who is supposedly a servant of the Lord himself, is selling the Lord's forgiveness, which lowers him to the exact same level as the Pardoner. However, even after all this, the narrator does not lower his opinion of the Friar one bit, still calling him a worthy man.Lastly, the Parson and the Friar differ in they way they treat people of different social classes. While the Pastor...

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