Thursday, September 19, 2019

Canterbury Tales - Downfall of the Church in Chaucer’s General Prologue :: Canterbury Tales

Canterbury Tales - Downfall of the Church in Chaucer’s General Prologue Light-hearted yet bitingly satirical, Chaucer’s â€Å"General Prologue† to his Canterbury Tales is a commentary on the corruptions of the Church at the time. Chaucer, being of noble estate, retains his witticism in his narrator. The narrator devotes many a line to the vivid portrayals of the Prioress and the Frere. Through the actions of these two members of the clergy, it is seen that the lust for material goods, the need for flaunting one’s estate, and the development of hypocrisy all contribute to the shaking of the Church’s foundations. Enfolded in the coils of luxury, the Prioress and the Frere can hardly recall their missions as part of the clergy. Is not gluttony evil in the eyes of the Church? Although not allowing any â€Å"morsel from hir lippes falle† (Chaucer, l. 128) can be viewed as a sign of â€Å"wasting not† in the Prioress, Chaucer’s narrator’s detailed and realistic descriptions of the Prioress’s table manners impress upon one that food and drink is the quintessence of this woman’s faith in the Church. The Frere, too, delights in merry living. Not only does he know the taverns in every town, he also knows â€Å"every hostiler and tappestere,/Bet than a lazar or a beggestere† (ll. 240-242). The Frere spends most of his time playing the rote and singing ballads (ll. 236-237); he also showers â€Å"faire wives† with gifts such as â€Å"knives† and â€Å"pinnes† (ll. 233-234). How is it then that the Frere needs to be g? He is the â€Å"beste beggere in his hous† (l. 252), and he can coax a â€Å"widwe [who] hadde nought a sho† (l. 255) to give him money. Is this not ridiculous when, during love-dayes, the Frere can - like a butterfly breaking out of its cocoon - shed his begging clothes and wear ceremonial gowns as rich and as fine as a maister’s or a pope’s? Contrary to the Church’s belief in not hoarding material goods, the Prioress delights in dressing fashionably in a neat cloak, with coral around her arms, and a gold brooch about her neck (ll. 157-162). As feasting and dressing shrewdly seem to occupy the bulk of these religious’ time, it must be that the Church is now based on hedonism instead of faith and humility!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.