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Geoffrey Chaucer’s Attitude Towards Religion

The personalities of many religious figures in “The General Prologue” are ironic and contrast with the stereotyped personalities. When Chaucer talks about the Monk in “The General Prologue” he says that the monk wears, “Fine gray fur, the finest in the land” (The General Prologue 198). Monks were supposed to be living a monastic life [...]

The personalities of many religious figures in “The General Prologue” are ironic and contrast with the stereotyped personalities. When Chaucer talks about the Monk in “The General Prologue” he says that the monk wears, “Fine gray fur, the finest in the land” (The General Prologue 198). Monks were supposed to be living a monastic life which was essentially living the life of a poor to get as close to god as possible, but instead the monk is living a very rich lifestyle. The monk is supposed to have on simple even tattered clothing.

Chaucer talks about another character, the Friar when he says, “He was an easy man in penance giving, where he could hope to make a decent living” (The General Prologue 227-228). Friars like monks are supposed to be living the life of a poor and were supposed to earn their money by begging, but clearly the Friar tries to get as rich as possible by giving penance.

Not only can the shift in character be seen in “The General Prologue”, but it can also be seen in “The Pardoners Tale”. One of the character says, “Sell me some poison [...] I have rats I want to kill” (The Pardoners Tale 197-199). Two of the deadly sins are practiced. This is because within the story the character wants all of the gold by killing off the other two friends, which is practicing the deadly sin of greed. Also another sin that is practiced is the sin of envy, and this is because the character is jealous that the other two friends have any share of the gold. So people are corrupt rather than the church itself.

Throughout the works Chaucer indirectly indicated many a times his attitude towards religion. Chaucer displays through the personalities of other pilgrims his attitude that the Catholic religion itself is not corrupt, but the people that are operating the religion and keep it working are corrupt themselves. Many religious figures are displayed with having a completely opposite personality to their stereotypical image. Chaucer displays many religious figures are not practicing their ideal role, have become corrupt, and are ruining the purity of the religion.

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