Canterbury Tales – the Monk Essay Example
Canterbury Tales – the Monk Essay Example

Canterbury Tales – the Monk Essay Example

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Canterbury Tales: The Monk Corruption under the pretense of purity within the Catholic Church has been an ongoing issue dating father back than anyone can remember. During medieval times, the Catholic Church had become widely notorious for hypocrisy, abuse of clerical power, and the compromise of morality throughout.

Geoffrey Chaucer made a fine and somewhat darkly comical example of this through The Monk, from the Canterbury Tales. The Monk is enlisting in a pilgrimage maybe for his love of riding, or to further line his pockets while pardoning people for their sins. According to the main four orders of friars in the Middle Ages, monks are supposed t take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The contents of this essay clearly suggest The Monk does not particularly care for these vows and is more i


nterested in riding and taking money for his own indulgences. The Monk is first introduced as “a fair for the maistrie.” (Line 165), already claiming he is above the average person’s importance.

The Monk is then explained as having a deep love of riding, which is usually a rich man’s hobby, and definitely not that of a supposed humble and simple Monk who should be known for staying within the walls of the cloister and devoted to books and prayer. Referring to St. Benedict’s Rule of basically praying and working, The Monk pays his rule no heed thus giving the idea of a somewhat careless, selfish Monk. The Monk is further described like this in the following passage: “What should he study and make himself wood Upon a book in closure always to pour or sunken with his hands and laborer As Austin

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bit? How shall the world be served? Lat Austyn have his owene swynk to hym reserved!” (Lines 184-188) The Monk shamelessly indulged in his out-of-character hobbies such as riding by dressing richly for it with lined sleeves, expensive gray fur and a gold pin fastened under his chin.

He wore a double-breasted cloak with a Flemish beaver hat. Of course, he is still an esteemed Monk and proving that with his infamous crowned haircut like that of a holy and worthy monk. The Monk loved eating and dressing well, and is described as being “full fat and in good point” (Line 200) with bright eyes, supple boots, and horses in the best shape. His favorite food was a fat swan as a roast and rightly described as “A Frere there was, a want one and a mere” (Line 209-210) Chaucer has much hypocrisy in his description of The Monk, most notably in the passage: “Unto his order, he was a noble post! And well-beloved and familiar was he With franklins ever al in his country” (Lines 214-216) Although he had just been explained as being pleasure-seeking and flirtatious, he is quite a well- respected man of the Church, but famous for forgiving the sins of people for a donation of money, whether it be a generous amount from the rich man or the last few coins of a starving family. Chaucer also uses words atypical in describing a monk such as “lust” (Line 201) and “want one” (Line 207).

The Monk is known throughout the land, particularly by men and women of a higher class. This sort of social contact was frowned upon by the Church, yet

he continued to do as he wanted, all the while still praying and walking as a man held to the Church. Nonetheless, through all The Monk’s ostensibly innocent hobbies, Chaucer is more than fair and proceeds to say The Monk is “Curteis he was and lovely of service. There has no man nowhere so virtuous;” (Line 250-251).

With satirical paradoxes of The Monk throughout the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer used his characterization of The Monk to somewhat symbolize the many dimensions and moral, or immoral, fibers of the Catholic Church. The Monk is therefore represented as being greedy, extravagant, and selfish all the while still doing his job as a devotee of God and assuring people absolution if they pay a fee of monetary value. Although the subject of a corrupt church is a very serious subject matter, Chaucer is able to lighten the seriousness by being non-judgemental and almost supporting of The Monk’s extravagances and light-heartedness. The Canterbury Tales will forever be relevant because of Chaucer’s ability to immortalize and write about issues and topics that will perpetually be characteristic of human nature. Although styles and times change, humans are the same and will make the same mistakes from generation through generation. Just as men have struggled with lust and desire throughout time, the Catholic Church will be posed with instances of bribery and corruption for times to come.

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