As one of the three greatest poets of the medieval time and the Father of English
literature, Geoffrey Chaucer had several great works of writing. The Canterbury Tales is
considered Chaucer’s masterpiece. The Canterbury Tales is a frame story about twenty-nine
characters and their pilgrimage to the shrine of Sir Thomas a Becket. In “The General Prologue” of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer introduces us to the characters. These characters come from all levels of the feudal society. The feudal society is simply broke down into three levels: people who fight, people who pray, and people who work. There are eight characters from the clergy class on the pilgrimage. Three of the main characters from the clergy class to look at are: the prioress, parson, and the monk. Throughout the “The General Prologue”, Chaucer criticizes and negatively reflects upon the majority of the clergy class.
The prioress is head of the nunnery and is looked up to by all of society. To become a nun, one must completely give their life in prayer to the Lord. They take special vows to the church making them sacred and even in some cases holy. Nuns usually are simply dressed and far from flashy. Their lives are centered on helping others. This is what is expected when someone mentions a nun; however, the nun that Chaucer describes in “The General Prologue” is far from these descriptions. She is described to use mild swearing and liked to eat a lot. She was said to be greedy and also wore a gold pen that said “love conquers all.” The description of the
prioress does not exactly match up with the description of a nun. Chaucer relates to us that not everyone of the clergy class may be there for the right reasons.
Next, Chaucer introduces the monk. Webster’s dictionary defines a monk as “a male religious living in a cloister and devoting himself to contemplation and prayer and work.” A monk is, in virtue, a male version...