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    The General Prologue Essay Paper

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    By a close examination of two or three of the portraits in the Gen Prologue, discuss the ways in which Chaucer considered corruption to be active among those with religious responsibilities It is clear from studying the General Prologue that Chaucer considered corruption to be active among those with religious responsibilities. To prove this I will examine the Monk and the Friar.

    Monks were part of a religious community and were vowed to poverty, chastity and obedience. But straight away from studying his portrait it is clear that he does not strictly follow these requirements. He is said to ‘loved venerie’ and ‘Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable’. It was forbidden for monks to have many horses this shows that not only does he not care for poverty but he also clearly has no regard for obedience. The bells on his horse were said to be so loud ‘men mighte his bridel here ginglen in a whistlinge wind als cleere and eek as loude as dooth the chapel belle’. This shows that for him the bells of his horse were louder and therefore more important than the bells of the church.

    The Monk was an example of many contemporaries of Chaucer’s who had no regard for the old values of the world such as religious dedication but were more concerned with the ideas of the new world, such as pleasure-seeking, ‘This ilke Monk leet olde thinges pace, and heeld after the newe world the space.’ The Monk’s love of hunting clearly interferes with his work and he is hardly a dedicated worshipper or indeed a supporter of religion or his job.

    He questions the point in keeping clergy confined to meaningless tasks, ‘How shal the world be served?’ He is tempted by the thrills of hunting and fine clothes, ‘Hunting for the hare was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare’. This shows that he put hunting above anything else. It is also noted that ‘He hadde of gold ywroght a ful curious pin’. He clearly took pleasure in fine clothes. The Monk is said to enjoy swan the most out of all the roasts. This is a sign of pure indulgence as the swan was expensive and hard to prepare.

    Although he is clearly corrupt, Chaucer does show his respect for him. He describes him as ‘nat pale as a forpined goost’. Throughout the General Prologue Chaucer shows respect for those who have some life in their skin. It shows that he is an active and passionate man. But this does not hide his corruption; no other Monk was as involved in dalliance as he was. The Friar is equally corrupt if not more. Friars differed from Monks as they were licensed to beg and leave their cloister.

    Chaucer uses very ironic language throughout the portrait of the Friar. He talks of the way the Friar would marry off young poor girls ‘at his owene cost’. On closer examination this is probably to avoid scandal as he most probably seduced these girls. The first sign of irony comes when Chaucer speaks of the Friar as a ‘noble post’. Irony again is used when Chaucer describes his familiarity with ‘worthy women’. These women are definitely not ‘worthy’ and are most likely victims of the Friar’s seduction.

    The Friar was licensed to hear confession but he uses this to his own advantage by offering terms of absolution for a price. This is extremely corrupt and shows that he lacks basic morals. The Friar believes that paying for absolution is more valuable than weeping or crying, ‘For unto a povre ordre for to yive is signe that a man is wel yshrive’. Chaucer describes the Friar as having a ‘nekke whit as the flour-de-lys’. This is unfavourable as Chaucer describes honourable and healthy pilgrims to be tanned such as the Shipman.

    Chaucer depicts the Friar as an indulgent man who isn’t a charitable Christian at all. This is backed up by, ‘he knew the taverns wel in every toun and everich hostiler and tappestere bet than a lazar or a beggestere’. Knowing taverns and barmaids better than leppars or beggars shows that he has no real concern for the plight of the less worthy but cares only for indulgence. Chaucer again uses irony, describing the Friar as a ‘worthy man’. The Friar believes that he shouldn’t bother spending time with leppars but only with people for his own profit. This again shows extreme lack of charity. More scathing irony is used as Chaucer informs us that if a chance of profit should arise the Friar would become courteous, this is confirmed by the way he is described by Chaucer, ‘there was no man nowher so verteous’.

    Another example of the Friar’s corruptness is the way he uses his religious position to beg more effectively. Chaucer describes an occasion where a widow with hardly any money to speak of was so moved by his words that she donated money. The Friar again shows a lack of care for anyone but himself, taking money from a woman with practically none shows true corruption. The Friar, like the Monk was a lover of fine clothes and is written to wear a cape made of very expensive fabric, ‘Of double worstede was his semicope’.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    The General Prologue Essay Paper. (2017, Nov 02). Retrieved from

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