Satire In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

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Throughout The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer repeatedly brings to light and renounces the corrupt activities of the Catholic Church and religious figures of the time. He uses satire to highlight such issues as the insatiable greed and untraditional ways of church officials. Since the most prominent references to the Church are the characters associated with it, it is evident that Chaucer finds the faults of the Church as an institution to be reflected by those directly related to it. Through the creation of religious characters who act contradictory to their occupations, Chaucer shows disdain for the greed and extreme self-interest of Church leaders, which directly correlates to the weaknesses of the Church at the time. The faults of …show more content…
He uses foreshadowing in this tale to compare material wealth to Death himself, “To find out Death, turn up this crooked way / Towards that grove, I left him there today / Under a tree, and there you’ll find him waiting” (252). As the three men in the tale reach the aforementioned tree all they find is, “A pile of golden florins on the ground” (253). This discovery ultimately leads to the death of all the men at the hands of each other, “What these two wretches suffered at their end. / Thus these two murderers received their due, / So did the treacherous young poisoner too” (256). Through this tale Chaucer is not offering a criticism but more of a warning. He does not want to see the Church's demise due to an infatuation with wealth. In the tale, the three self proclaimed brothers who were willing to die for each other, (“These three, to live and die for one another / As brother-born might swear to his born brother.”) kill each other instead, only to obtain a little extra wealth for themselves (251). Chaucer is demonstrating the negative effects incurred upon one in a search for wealth, such as extreme selfishness and egotism. The fact that the hypocritical Pardoner is the one to deliver this message further uncovers Chaucer's purpose in writing this warning. As Creighton explains, "There is never present in the whole treatment of these unworthy church representatives the slightest question as to the doctrine which they failed to preach" (30). Out of the vast collection of corrupted figures, all of them realize that they are not acting as they should, yet they do nothing to fix their behavior. They use their connections to the Church to not only justify their actions, but also to avoid facing severe consequences for them. This shows just how clouded the mind can become when faced with the feasible prospect of wealth. With the multitude of Church leaders corrupted by their own selfish desires,

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