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Chaucer and Religion

It is very rare that a book is written without the opinions of the author being clearly expressed somewhere within that book. Geoffrey Chaucers The Canterbury Tales is one such book. In the General Prologue alone, by viewing Chaucers description of the Knight, the Prioress, and the Friar, the reader is able to pick up on Chaucers satirical humor toward the church of the 14th century. The first male traveler mentioned is the chivalrous Knight. It is interesting that Chaucer chooses to introduce The Knight as the first character. He possibly does this because during the era, Knights were strong, truthful and were to fight the good fight. This tactic would fit in to Chaucers goal of relaying the overall message that nothing of the time was as enchanting as it were to appear. Chaucer describes his Knight as a man so honored due to his loyalty in battle. He states, And evere honoured for his worthyness No Cristen man so ofte of his degree (2). This whole statement is hypocritical because the Knight is being viewed as Christian when he kills men and pillages their homelands. Also, because he is loyal to his king and brings him much profit, he is blessed as Christian. Chaucer, in his depiction of the Knight is clearly voicing his disgust in the practices of the 14th century Catholic Church. The church is no longer backing an England that is fighting a holy war to spread Christianity; they are backing an England that is looking to acquire land. Even more intriguing than Chaucers description of the Knight was his introduction of the Prioress as the first woman character. The Prioress, the nun, should be the epitome of female holiness. She is pure, kind, gentle and of peaceful mind. Chaucer chooses his words carefully in describing the Prioress. This detail subtly shows again that all is not what it is to be. A nun is not to be seductive or demure yet the narrator describes her as such. The narrator states, That of hir smylyn...

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