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The English Church Exposed In Canterbury Tales

1121 words - 4 pages

The 14th Century is a time in which the power of the English Church started to vanish because of multiple reasons. And Geoffrey Chaucer’s greatest work, the Canterbury Tales, can be a good evidence of the profligacy and immorality of the England Church at that time. In this magnificent piece of English literature, Chaucer expresses both his disappointment and admiration for the England Church through many different Church pilgrims form high social class to common people. By his description about the living qualities and moral standards of the various Church people, we can see that Chaucer thinks the English Church is a greedy institution where money comes before religion. And the Churchmen’s lavish personal lives indicate that most of the Churchmen don’t act in a Christian way. However, regardless of these Church people’s good or bad characteristics, they are all well educated in Chaucer’s Tale. Quite interestingly, Chaucer doesn’t say a word about the Medieval English Church in his prologue. But through these Church pilgrims, he spread his comments on the Church and Churchmen in a “silent” way.
Writing about the pilgrims drawn almost from every rank of 14th Century English Church, the Canterbury Tale takes a look at almost every angle and class of the Church. Each of these Church pilgrims has his or her instinct stories. But these people’s different experiences and characteristics are all reflections of Chaucer’s point that Church is a hypocritical institution in which money is the real religion. Lots of these Churchmen use God’s name to get money for their own wills. The pardoner once said in front of everybody that his only desire is to be rich. In order to achieve his dream he sells relics and pardoners to people. And the friar, whose job is to confess people in God’s name, charge money for hearing confessions. He only serves the rich people and the more you pay the more you got confessed. And from the clothes the descriptions of the Churchmen’s physical appearance and their possessions, we can tell most of their life styles are extremely lavish. The monk is very tan, because he spent a lot of time outside and only men were wealthy can afford to relax or hunt outside. He also owns a lot of horses, which is another sign of wealth. And the nun has very good clothes and rosary. But the parson, who is opposite whom from most the Church people and really preaches and teaches, is the only one who is in poverty. So it is obvious that Chaucer thinks the Church doesn’t appreciate those who are truly dedicated to Christianity but gives the special privileges to those who have power and greed.
Maybe because of the general voracious circumstance of the Church, most of the Churchmen in Chaucer’s Tale are not holy or even moral in life. They put the traditional Christian rules behind and do things that are clearly forbidden in either Bible or in St. Benedict. The monk, as an example, thinks hunting and eating are the biggest fun in life. Hunters are...

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