Social Stereotypes In Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

1916 Words 8 Pages
Throughout the course of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer introduces many characters with distinct traits to identify each role in this society. These characters are stereotypes of individuals who Chaucer encountered. All of these characters stand apart from one another; however, there are a few miniscule similarities between a few of the characters. Chaucer stereotypes the characters for the following reasons: to bring change to the current system, to easily visualize each character, and to exaggerate the difference in social classes. First, Chaucer tries to bring to light the need in changing the social system. The main way he constructs his argument is through the corruption he witnessed. The Pardoner is a prime example of corruption. Chaucer …show more content…
Chaucer, very aware of the social injustices the members of the clergy committed, used a typical pardoner and a typical friar to paint a picture to the reader the problem. Chaucer also shows how stereotypes make assumptions of characters as part of their description. The Reeve, an old man who does not partake in merriment in the form of food, is portrayed as a grouch who is very stingy; conversely, the Nun is described as tender and worldly. The Plowman and Knight represent different class, but yet both are distinct examples of what a person may expect out of that occupation as a whole. Chaucer thoroughly demonstrates how stereotypes exemplify each character and his or her work as a …show more content…
The main way he constructs his argument is through the corruption he witnessed. The Pardoner is a prime example of corruption. Chaucer introduces the reader to the Pardoner by saying, “He’d sewed a holy relic on his cap;/ His wallet lay before him on his lap,/ Brimful of pardons come from Rome, all hot,” (703-05). During the Middle Ages, pardons were sold to sinners under sentence of an extended penance from official pardoners. Hence, pardons sparked corruption; either the ignorant would purchase the pardons to be forgiven or the fake pardoners would trick the ignorant into buying the pardons. Regardless the reason, the uneducated were taken advantage of which Chaucer disagreed with the practice of people who were supposed to be trustworthy cheating others. Another example of this corruption is from the Friar. “For he was qualified to hear confessions,/ Or so he said, with more than priestly scope;/ He had a special license from the Pope./ Sweetly he heard his penitents at shrift” (222-25). Chaucer questions the Friar’s authenticity for hearing confessions. The Friar utilized his ability as a listener very effectively. His open ear allowed him to make a decent living instead of working among the individuals where he would not accrue a profit. Both the Pardoner and the Friar used their positions to better themselves at the cost of fulfilling their religious

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