Chaucer: The Nun's priests tale

Essay by zee7903University, Master'sA+, February 2007

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"Chaucer offers a positive view of medieval life"/ Chaucer's view of medieval life is peppered with criticisms and negative perceptions of the daily routine"

Chaucer's view of medieval life was peppered with criticism and negative perceptions of the daily routine. Through the use of a fictional narrator Chaucer is able to tackle diverse topics such as politics and criticise human vices such as gluttony and pride. The use of a beast fable allows Chaucer to openly voice his criticisms of medieval life under the disguise of animals. He satirically mocks flaws in the church and in doing so introduces the theme of rich and poor.

Right from the opening prologue we are made to realise that the priest although a religious figure is presented in a lowly way as his horse is described as 'a jade' and as 'foul and lene,' whilst the monk is described as to have 'belles that on youre bridel hange on every side.'

It suggests that Chaucer is criticising the state of the convent stables and so indirectly the state of the church.

The contrast of these two characters is also important. The monk whilst rich seems far from god as he has bells along his saddle and so it can be concluded that he is vain as he is only interested in outward appearance. Yet the priests' horse is in a poor state and yet he seems perfectly contented. This introduces the theme of rich and poor which is a reoccurring theme in the poem.

Chaucer helps to emphasise the gap between rich and poor with his use of vocabulary. A 'bour' and 'halle' are parts of a castle which are associated with rich and noble people, yet Chaucer satirically uses them in his description of the poor widow. The widow leads a dignified...