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General prologue-In support of the monk

Uploaded by mARISTOTLE on Apr 12, 2002

Today, when we hear the word “monk”, it often brings up the image of an old man wearing a brown robe with a shaved head. While this image is based on some level of fact, it is certainly not what the Monk in Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales is like. Instead, Chaucer presents a monk who goes against all stereotypes, ignoring traditions, engaging in hunting, and even indulging in materialistic goods. This portrayal leads many readers to conclude that the Monk is a man of bad character, because he is not true to his line of work. However, this conclusion seems to be arrived at far too quickly. Upon further investigation the Monk can be seen as a decent man who has found himself in the wrong profession.

One reason that could be used to support the idea that the Monk is a man of poor character is his complete disregard for tradition. The narrator states, “This ilke Monk leet olde thinges pace,/And heeld after the newe world the space”(175-76)., showing that the Monk had little interest in things of tradition. The Monk even goes as far as to say, “lat Austin have his swink to him reserved”(188), showing complete disregard to the rules of the St. Augustine. This trait, however, is only frowned upon in professions, like monkshood, which rely heavily on tradition. Had the Monk chosen a different career his liberal thinking would more most certainly be tolerated.

The opinion that the Monk is a man of poor character becomes weaker when compared to many other men of the church in the prologue. An example of this is the corrupt Pardoner, selling pardons for profit, and making “…the parson and the people his apes”(706). The Pardoner used his position to take advantage of people, a concept foreign to the thinking of the Monk. Thus this personality trait in the Monk leads to the conclusion not that he is a bad person and neglecting his true duties for profit (like the Pardoner), but simply that he is a man in the wrong profession.

The next trait that the could be interpreted as a reflection of poor character is the Monks love affair with hunting. Again, however, this is merely a conflict of personal and professional interests, and not a matter of a faulty personality. It seems almost unfortunate that a man of whom the narrator says, “Of priking and of hunting...

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Uploaded by:   mARISTOTLE

Date:   04/12/2002

Category:   Cantebury Tales

Length:   4 pages (922 words)

Views:   2101

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