The Parson Depicted In Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

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The Canterbury Tales' are full of lust, greed, and all other manner of sins. But in the last of the tale, we hear the true message of the story and finally meet a character who is moral and upstanding in the Parson.

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, is an unfinished collection of stories. The overall plot is that a group of pilgrims who are visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury are having a contest to see who can tell the best story. 'The Parson's Tale', which is thought to be the one Chaucer intended to be the last story, is more of a moral lesson than a story.

While other books may leave the moral of their stories open for interpretation, the lesson in 'The Parson's Tale' is abundantly clear: repent while you still can!

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For example, chastity can guard against lust.

The Parson wraps up his tale with the encouraging news that if you confess your sin and are truly sorry, you will then reach satisfaction. This way, he says, you will be at peace. He uses the sun as the base of his image of paradise, which is the peace that comes from rising above sin.

Chaucer's Retraction

This section comes directly after the end of 'The Parson's Tale.' Here, Chaucer (speaking in first person) urges his readers to carefully consider the message in 'The Parson's Tale'. He then goes on to say that if there was anything in The Canterbury Tales you didn't like, he apologizes. He wishes he were a better writer. For anything you didn't like, blame him and not the story itself.

Lesson Summary

'The Parson's Tale' is certainly the most morally uplifting. Instead of a fable, we get a sermon, warning us against sin and telling us how to overcome it. Chaucer, in his retraction at the end of this story, begs our forgiveness for not being able to tell his tales in the way that they deserve. The image of the sun at the end of the story shows that peace is possible if we are only willing to earn

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