In the Canterbury tales Chaucer exposes the churches immortality and corruption. The church builds using expensive metal with material for instance gold while the clerfy lives the “ghetto” lifestyle. Although things like the lack of jobs, sickness and little abundances of food were relevant staples of the 19th century. The church was extremely wealthy while the nuns and others lived a boring lifestyle, the worse part was that it was all at the expense of the catholic faith. He figures out that the immortality came from the church starting with the Pardoner. The Pardoner rides in the very back of the party in the General Prologue and is fittingly the most marginalized character in the company. His profession is somewhat dubious.
Pardoners offered indulgences, or previously written pardons for particular sins, to people who repented of the sin they had committed. Along with receiving the indulgence, the penitent would make a donation to the Church by giving money to the pardoner. Eventually, this “charitable” donation became a necessary part of receiving an indulgence. Paid by the Church to offer these indulgences, the Pardoner was not supposed to pocket the penitents’ charitable donations. That said, the practice of offering indulgences came under critique by quite a few churchmen, since once the charitable donation became a practice allied to receiving an indulgence, it began to look like one could cleanse oneself of sin by simply paying off the Church.
The Pardoner works in these churches and constantly receives donations the belong to the church. He would always keep their donation money and never give any of the donations to any organizations in need. He has the willpower to preach against this sin, greed yet not only did he steal the signature to access the church’s funds, but he often sold relics. He sells them claiming they will protect the faithful against the devil which is another sin. The narrator destroys the ways and reputation of the Catholic Church when he exposes the priest and the monk as very greedy, sinful, and unfaithful members. He shows that they have no intention to serve the catholic church or God despite being a biggest part of the church. The Friar, who is the church’s priest, receives constant “backlash” from the people in the town due to his difficulties obeying abstinence and celibacy. He often has intimate relationships with the beautiful women of the town. He also enlist the help of very rich and selfish men from the town to promote the corruption of the church through the acceptance of bribery, another sin. On the other hand, the monk goes around the rules by staying in the church and wandering aimlessly about showing his love for food.
The priest and monk reveal the degrading morals and the unfaithfulness in the church. Through the description of the contrasting characters of the Summoner and the Parson, the narrator is able to draw the picture of the Catholic Church during the nineteenth century. The Summoner is an illiterate, drunkard, and irritating man infected with leprosy, but the church has bestowed him the role to monitor the people who break the catholic rules. On the other hand, the Parson is a poor man who preaches the word of God and ensures he lives according to the word, therefore, in him the reader sees the character expected from the priests, monks, friars, and other church leaders. Thus, due to extreme corruption in the church, the faithful believers like the Parson live in abject poverty but commit themselves to God, which is contrary to the other clericals or church employees like the Summoner. In summary, the Catholic faith is one of the ancient faiths in the world but due to corruption amongst Catholic leaders, the faith is increasingly becoming unpopular. The employees like the Summoner and the Pardoner live against the Catholic teachings while the priests, monks, and nuns live a rich lifestyle. Finally, the Catholic leaders live a sedentary, immoral, and rich lifestyle at the expense of their faithful like the Parson who live in extreme poverty.
- Chaucer, Geoffrey. “From The Pardoner’s Tale.” Translated by Nevill
- Coghill. Literature Texas Treasures: British Literature, Edited by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2011, pp. 126–131.
- Chaucer, Geoffrey. “From The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.” Translated by Nevill
- Coghill. Literature Texas Treasures: British Literature, Edited by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2011, pp. 102–123.
- Chaucer, Geoffrey. “From The Wife of Bath’s Tale.” Translated by Nevill Coghill.
- Literature Texas Treasures: British Literature, by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2011, pp. 134-148.