The Canterbury Tales: Clerk and Monk Essay example

1064 Words Nov 6th, 2011 5 Pages
The Contrasting Characters: The Monk and The Clerk of Oxford

The Monk and the Clerk are two characters lying in opposite extremities. What one person lacks, the other has gained in abundance. This essay will explore the major differences between the Clerk and Monk in the Canterbury Tales; its focus mainly pointed to physical descriptions, differences in personality and the underlying themes in their tales of sacrifice and betrayal. Chaucer the pilgrim is quite keen on both of these opposite characters in respect to their attitudes.

The Monk is a merry man who has a portly body and not an inch of hair on his head and is explained as attractive. His love for
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On the contrary, the Clerk is an ideal form of his profession. He spends the money he earns on books instead of clothes and food. He is quite quiet in the beginning of the pilgrimage until the Host kindly asks him to speak. The clerk who is a student at Oxford and pursuing his Master’s degree in logic has a knowledgeable speech and regarded highly by the Host.

The Monk’s tale focuses on the theme of tragedy and revenge and is based on Boccaccio’s de Casibus Virorum et Feminarum Illistrium. In the Italian Renaissance, it is regarded as one of the greatest works of early humanism and was emphasized in the Greek and Latin classics focusing on the importance of man as his own individual regardless of their fame which can be contrasted with the medieval views. Chaucer has taken the basis of this view and brings it back to the setting of the Middle Ages, writing about the downfalls of famous people. The accounts of the famous people in the Monk’s Tale are examples of strong and powerful men who have been betrayed and destroyed. As examples, Lucifer was an angel who fell through sin. Adam lived in paradise until one moment caused him to lose everything. The ruler of Israel called Sampson was incredibly strong; his wife convinced her husband to divulge into the source of his strength and betrayed him by telling his enemies and taking another husband for herself.

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