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Avarice In Canterbury Tales

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Avarice: Geoffrey Chaucer's Time

Geoffrey Chaucer is the father of poetry, he has written many poems as well as various stories in his time. Moreover, in his literary masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer has recounts tales about a pilgrimage to Canterbury. However, certain stories in the novel illustrate a universal truth about the corruption, greed and the hypocrisy of the English Church. The author uses a variety of techniques and in this case, short stories to develop this universal truth. He does this by illustrating the avarice that exists amongst the churches most prominent members being the Monk, Nun, and the Friar.

To begin, the monk is entirely undisciplined, and has no regard for proper monk etiquette. This oversized bald monk Chaucer describes disobeys almost every rule that he has vowed to follow. He is described as a "a fat and personable priest" (p. 6), indicating that he has more food than he should and there for must be stealing it, neglecting the fact that peasants were starving to death. In addition the monk enjoys hunting as a sport even though this act was seen to be unholy, "He did not rate that text at a plucked hen which says that hunters are not holy men" (p. 7). Furthermore a stereotypical Monk is to remain in his cloister and pay homage to god, although this monk disobeys this rule and wanders about taking the "modern world in a spacious way" (p 8). Furthermore he wears "fine grey fur, the finest in the land;" (p. 8) albeit he had vowed to a life of poverty. Lastly, Chaucer describes the monk to have "prominent eyeballs" that "never seemed to settle" (p 8); this indicates the monks yearning for lust, which is a direct violation of his chastity vow. The author is able to question the monk's actions using satire and is able to convey his unholy nature to the reader.

Secondly in comparison to the Monk, the nun also exhibits various unholy traits. She kept small dogs as pets and delightfully fed them "roasted flesh, or milk, or fine white bread;" (p. 7) while neglecting the fact that many people were starving in the streets. Furthermore "She would weep if she but came upon a mouse caught in a trap, if it were dead or bleeding,"(p. 7) this implies that the Nun cared more about the suffering of animals than people who were dieing due to hunger and disease. The Nun is also portrayed as a wealthy Christian woman who doesn't do charitable deeds or relieves the poor of their hardships. She is described as a person who always gives into her indulgences, as Chaucer writes, "She was indeed

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