Religious Hypocrisy In Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

791 Words 4 Pages
The Medieval society viewed and treated everyone according to their social rank, meaning nobility and ecclesiastical dominated all at the top, and peasants worked for them at the bottom. The Catholic Church's increase in power and wealth in the 14th century resulted in the establishment of expensive churches decorated with excessive amounts of gold. These great displays of wealth angered the people experiencing disease, plague, and famine, especially when churchmen began taking advantage of the misfortunate and abusing their clerical powers. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer represents religious hypocrisy and values that are still present today in the Monk, Pardoner, and Nun through the use of satire and physiognomy.
Chaucer represents religious
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A typical pardoner in the Middle Ages sells indulgences to relieve people of their sins, securing them a spot in heaven. Commonly known historically as deceitful, pardoners lived their days conning people for money. Chaucer uses physiognomy to develop his characters, especially the Pardoner. “The General Prologue” describes him with “hair as yellow as wax”, “thinly they fell, like rat-tails”, with a high voice, “the same small voice a goat has got”, and “his chin no beard had harbored” (695-709). This satire used to mock the Pardoner shows his lack of manhood. He even calls him a gelding, meaning a castrated horse. Saying his balls are nonexistent blatantly proves just how strongly the narrator feels about him. The Pardoner may seem good at preaching, but he tells the pilgrims that he just wants to cheat them out of their money. He commits the very crimes he preaches against, and this may be the biggest sin of all. Chaucer clearly reveals this to the readers, bringing up ideas of greed, sin, pride, and …show more content…
Our society changed from everyone following the pope devotedly to viewing religion as an option or hobby. Catholic Church leaders don’t hold or enforce any form of power in our government today, but most of our holidays are derived from Catholic traditions, since they used to dominate everything. Religious hypocrisy continues to exist today, but not to the extent that Chaucer revealed. The church is perpetually asking for donations to help the needy, homeless, hungry and yet our churches are still filled with ample priceless artifacts and ornamented with excessive amounts of gold, as if they have money to throw around. Some sins repeatedly pop up in our society today, and will continue to until we realize that greed ultimately leads to death, as the Pardoner would

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