In the Canterbury Tales, the Friar and the Parson differ in morals, motivations, and monetary dealings. How can that be if friars and parsons are suppose to be very similar. Friars are members of the religious order, and parsons are clergy, nearly identical people of each other. In fact, both the Parson and the Friar claim to preach the gospel. However, the Friar is a foil of the Parson as shown through his physical attributes, actions, and motivations.
The physical descriptions of the Friar and of the Parson differ in material and in size. According to medieval thinking, this apparent characteristic of the Friar reflects a lustful heart. The Parson, contrastingly, has no physical description other than of his staff, which is a proof of his role as shepherd over his congregation. Chaucer describes the Parson as "Benign and wondrous diligent. Patient in adverse times and well content" (7,8). Chaucer meant to describe Parson's spiritual depth rather than his physical appearance. The physical description of these characters reflects the lechery of the Friar and the godliness of the Parson.
The different physical descriptions of these clergymen reflect their contrasting ethical codes. The Friar is worldly and does not abide by any code of ethics. The Parson, however, follows the ethical code that he appoints to others, namely, God's Word. He also unselfishly cares for his throng with purity and respect toward each member. But the extremely selfish Friar, though of the Four Orders, "... had arranged full many a marriage of young women, and this at his own cost" (5,6). The cynical Friar is distinguished by his ethical code from the compassionate Parson.
These cleric morals parallel their monetary policies. The Parson is poor, "but rather would he give... unto those poor... part of his income" (11-13). The Friar is wealthy from cheating, stealing, and bribing. Rather than earning money and having the satisfaction of completing a job, the Friar...