The Monk and the Parson of The Canterbury Tales

The Monk and the Parson of The Canterbury Tales

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The Monk and the Parson of The Canterbury Tales


      In the prologue, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is about

the pilgrimage of many different characters to Canterbury.  Chaucer writes

about the characters' personalities and their place on the social ladder.

The Monk and the Parson are examples of how Chaucer covered the spectrum of

personalities.  The Monk is self-centered, while the Parson cares for the

sick and poor.


      In The Canterbury Tales, the Monk acts like he is part of the upper

class of society.  He is very tan, he likes to hunt, and he has horses.

All of these traits are symbols of wealth and prestige.  "His palfrey was

as brown as is a berry." (P 120 line 211)  This shows that the Monk spends

a lot of time outside, only men who are wealthy can afford to relax or hunt

outside.  Hunters are not considered holy men because they kill for

entertainment and pleasure.  The common man spends his day working for what

little wages he can earn.  The Monk also had horses, which is another sign

of wealth.  "This Monk was therefore a good man to horse;" (p 120 line 193)

Very few men in that period had enough time to learn and ride horses.  All

of these extravagancies are against the oath the Monk took for the Church.


      The Monk was also lazy and disliked working.  Monks, in general,

are hard working and are willing to help the less fortunate.  The Monk also

ignored the monastic rules set up by St. Benedict.


      The Rule of good St. Benet or St. Maur

      As old and strict he tended to ignore;

                        P 120, lines 177-178


This shows that the Monk is interested in the pleasures of life, and not

his duty as a monk.  He is worthless in the eyes of Chaucer and he dislikes

the Monk very much.


      The Parson was a poor man who gave what little he could to the

other poor people of his town.  He knew the teachings of the Bible and

Christ, and preached to whoever was willing to listen.  He followed the

Bible in life and he believed that a priest must be trustworthy.

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  He led by

example for all of the other people in town by not having a rich life and

still living happily.


      This noble example to his sheep he gave,

      And it was from the gospel he had caught it.

                              (P 129 Lines 506-507)


The Parson never looked for recognition or glory for his choice of

lifestyle.  He was very low key and was willing to help someone no matter

what the weather conditions were.  The Parson was very generous with what

little he had.


      Giving to poor parishioners round about

      From his own goods and Easter offerings.

      He found sufficiency in little things.


This proves again that he is good-natured and loving.  He is a Good

Samaritan and has a compassionate soul.


        In the Prologue of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer shows preference

toward the Parson because he makes him a wholesome, well rounded,

sympathetic person.  The Monk, on the other hand, is disliked tremendously

by Chaucer.  Chaucer displays him as self-righteous, pompous, and ignorant

toward the feelings of others.  Chaucer shows his opinions by writing about

the characters' lifestyles and their personalities
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