Which pilgrims does Chaucer idealize in The Canterbury Tales

The Knight, the Sergeant at the Law, the Parson, the Plowman, and the Manciple are idealized by the narrator in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” includes a wide variety of characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. However, there are a few characters that Chaucer seems to idealize more than others. Here are some examples:

The Knight-

The Knight is described as the ideal of the medieval Christian man-at- arms. He is characterized as being a distinguished man who exhibits the virtues of “Truth, honor, generousness, and courtesy” (46). Honored for these noble “graces,” the Knight has ridden in the Crusades and fought in many battles against the “heathens.” Not only is he distinguished in his military and religious endeavors, but the Knight also adheres to the Chivalric code, as he is modest in his behavior and “a true, a perfect gentle-knight” (70).

The Sergeant-

The Sergeant at the Law is described in glowing terms. He is “wary and wise,” “of noted excellence, discreet,” and a “man of reverence” (320-321).

He has a wide knowledge of the law, and the documents that he draws up for transferring ownership of property are precise because he is an expert in his field: “No one could pinch a comma from his screeds” (336). That is, no one could find even a comma misplaced in his documents.

The Parson-

The Parson is lauded because he is truly a holy man of the cloth. Described as a “holy-minded man of good renown” (488), the Parson is “rich” in both holy thoughts and learning. Unlike many of the clergy who collect tithes and sell indulgences, the Parson dislikes collecting fees. Instead, he prefers performing works of charity and giving to poor parishioners round about ( From his own goods and Easter offerings. (499-500).

The Parson is a devoutly religious man who serves as a model of Christian piety. He is humble, compassionate, and always willing to help those in need. He takes his religious duties very seriously and is dedicated to teaching his congregation the principles of Christian morality. The Parson represents the ideal of the Christian pastor in the Middle Ages, and his character reflects the values of piety, humility, and compassion.

He always visits his parishioners, no matter how inclement the weather is or how far from him they live. “He was a shepherd and no mercenary” (524). He teaches the words of Christ and his Apostles, but not before he practices them himself.

The Plowman-

The Plowman is a humble man and “an honest worker” who lives in “peace and perfect charity” (543). He follows the command to love God and his fellow man; he helps the poor “for love of Christ” and never takes any payment if he is not in need. “He paid his tithes in full when they were due” (553) on whatever he owned.

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The Plowman is a hardworking farmer who is dedicated to his family and his work. He is a simple man who lives a modest life, but he is respected for his honesty and his willingness to help others in need. The Plowman represents the ideal of the honest laborer in the Middle Ages, and his character reflects the values of hard work, honesty, and selflessness.

The Manciple-

The Manciple is a medieval purchasing agent who is very frugal. Although he is an “illiterate fellow,” he can “outpace the wisdom of a heap of learned men” (593-594). For no matter how clever or knowledgeable of laws or how frugal others of greater learning are, “this Manciple could wipe their eye” (604). In other words, he excels all in his abilities.

The Franklin-

The Franklin is a wealthy landowner who is known for his generosity and hospitality. He enjoys hosting lavish feasts for his friends and neighbors and is always willing to share his wealth with those in need. The Franklin represents the ideal of the benevolent landowner in the Middle Ages, and his character reflects the values of generosity, hospitality, and kindness.

While these characters are certainly idealized by Chaucer, it is important to note that they are not without flaws. For example, the Knight has participated in wars and battles that may not have been just, and the Clerk’s dedication to his studies comes at the expense of his social life. However, overall, these characters represent the values and virtues that Chaucer believed were important in medieval society.

It is also worth noting that Chaucer’s portrayal of these characters is not purely idealistic. He also includes characters who are flawed and less than virtuous, such as the Pardoner, who is known for his greed and dishonesty, and the Miller, who is often drunk and vulgar. By including a range of characters with both positive and negative traits, Chaucer paints a realistic and nuanced picture of medieval society.



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