1 Vudojinn

Canterbury Tales Prioress Satire Essays

852 words of an in-depth description of the Prioress Character from the Prologue of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Shows how Chaucer made fun of the character of the Prioress when writing his Canterbury tales.

Chaucer's description of The Prioress in The Canterbury Tales (1472) is rife with subtle, witty comments that show with irony that The Prioress is not the coy, sweet stereotypical church figure the narrator may have perceived her to be, but more a pseudo upper class citizen whose devotion to manners were adsurb and useless in where she was and her foolish sentimentality.

The Prioress's stifling attention to the manners she dearly values are shown by the lines "Hir gretteste ooth was but by sainte Loy!" The modern day meaning that her greatest oath was by a saint "associated with the journeys or craftsmanship, was also famous for his personal beauty, courtesy and refusal to swear" were not stereotypical and profound, crucial values for religious figures to hold important .

The Prioress places extreme emphasis on these values that are mocked considerably such as the Prioress speaking French, the language upper class England spoke in Chaucer's time but not in the middle and lower classes "And Frenssh she spak ful faeleire and fetisly, After the scole of Stratford at the Bowe - For Frenssh of Paris was to hire unknowe" interpreted to mean the Prioresses vulgar pronunciation compared to elite Parisian French was obvious, yet the Prioress herself was oblivious to it.

The colloquial for The Prioress eating and drinking habits imply she devours her food, not wasting any she never let any food fall from her lips, never wet her fingers in the sauce, she could carry a morsel keeping it and no drop of it would fall on her breast as interpreted from...

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - The Nun Prioress of the General Prologue

  • Length: 879 words (2.5 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - More ↓
The Canterbury Tales  - The Nun Prioress

In the reading "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer, there is a detailed description about the nun Prioress in the "General Prologue". Chaucer uses physical and spiritual relationships to show the characteristics of a person. When we see the nun in relationship to other characters, for example the Knight, Chaucer makes the reader see two types of people. On one hand, the nun who gives much importance to minor things. On the other hand, the Knight who gives much importance to things that really matter. To describe how the nun was Chaucer writes with irony the description of the nun Prioress, everything that Chaucer says about her means the opposite.

Chaucer describes a nun Prioress called Madame Eglantine. A nun should be modest, had to have poverty, and pity. Chaucer describes the nun in the opposite way to show us, how the nun Prioress had all the characteristics that a nun should not have. She was a nun modest, well educated and with good manners. She also had tender feelings, and a strong love for God and his creations. The author connects the relationship between how she sang and with her nose. He is sarcastic when relating her physical and spiritual beauty. "She sang the divine service well, entuning it in her nose in a most seemly way." (122-123) She was a well educated person, who reflects her manners in her language and with her actions. "She spoke French well and properly" in this quote properly means with good manners, not with slang words or with the popular language used in France. "For the French of Paris was unknown to her."(124) All of these characteristics show how the nun Prioress was focused on things that should not be important for a nun.

Among her minor things, the nun in the tale actions was cautious and splendid. Her manners were unique, and practiced with perfection. "Her table manners were admirable: she never let a morsel fall from her lips, nor wet her fingers too deeply in the sauce; daintily she carried a morsel to her lips, taking care that no drop should fall on her breast: she took much pleasure in proper etiquette." (133) The author makes us understand that her behavior with such perfection was not because she was obligated to act in this way.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - The Nun Prioress of the General Prologue." 123HelpMe.com. 11 Mar 2018

LengthColor Rating 
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Concept of Charity in the General Prologue - The Concept of Charity in the General Prologue   In the "General Prologue," Chaucer presents an array of characters from the 1400's in order to paint portraits of human dishonesty and stupidity as well as virtue.  Out of these twenty-nine character portraits three of them are especially interesting because they deal with charity.  Charity during the 1400's, was a virtue of both religious and human traits.  One character, the Parson, exemplifies Chaucer's idea of charity, and two characters, Prioress, and Friar, to satirize the idea of charity and show that they are using charity for either devious reasons or out of convention or habit....   [tags: General Prologue Essays]
:: 2 Works Cited
946 words
(2.7 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay - Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales The Knight, Squire, Prioress, The Monk and the Friar are defined by their settings in Geoffrey Chaucer’s "Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales. 1. Portnoy says in his article in the Chaucer Review that "The General Prologue is like a mirror reflecting the individuals appearance which then defines the character of that person."(281) 2. Scanlon backs up Portnoy in his article from Speculum by saying "…Characters descriptions somehow emerge inevitably from the original intentions of Chaucer’s text or reflect its lasting value." (128) 3....   [tags: Chaucer Geoffrey Canterbury Tales Essays]
:: 8 Works Cited
1275 words
(3.6 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Essay on “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale”: An Analysis - The “General Prologue” provides us with no evidence as to the character of the Nun’s Priest. Only in the prologue to his tale do we finally get a glimpse of who he might be, albeit rather obtusely. As Harry Bailey rather disparagingly remarks: “Telle us swich thyng as may oure hertes glade./Be blithe, though thou ryde upon a jade” (p.235, ll2811-2812). I say this cautiously because much criticism has surrounded the supposed character of the Nun’s Priest, his role in the tale, and his relationship to the Canterbury Tales as a whole....   [tags: Literature Analysis]2246 words
(6.4 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Chaucer's Views on Women: Griselda and the Wife of Bath's the Loathly Lady - Chaucer's Views on Women: Griselda and the Wife of Bath's the Loathly Lady As a man fascinated with the role of women during the 14th Century, or most commonly known as the Middle Ages, Chaucer makes conclusive evaluations and remarks concerning how women were viewed during this time period. Determined to show that women were not weak and humble because of the male dominance surrounding them, Chaucer sets out to prove that women were a powerful and strong-willed gender. In order to defend this argument, the following characters and their tales will be examined: Griselda from the Clerk's Tale, and the Wife of Bath, narrator to the Wife of Bath's Tale....   [tags: European Literature Chaucer Essays Papers]
:: 7 Works Cited
3022 words
(8.6 pages)
Term Papers[preview]
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer Essay - The Canterbury Tales is a set of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century. The stories were told by a group of pilgrims traveling to Canterbury Cathedral, in hopes to see a shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. To make time go by the host recommended each pilgrim tell a tale. The tale that each character gives, reveals that person’s background and life. Some pilgrims matched their stereotype of that time but most do not. The Prioress, Madame Eglentyne, and Wife of Bath, Allison, are two characters that do not fit their stereotype of the Middle Ages....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales Essays]
:: 11 Works Cited
1118 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Essay about The Canterburry Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer - Chaucer lived in a time of great flux. His world was not only different from the world of his parents and grandparents; it was different from the one that he grew up in himself. The Black Plague had decimated the population and created voids in the labor force. The 100 Year’s War was ongoing and required countless men and resources to continue. Traditions, customs and rituals were questioned as society changed. The divisions within social strata were blurring and the organization of Europe was changing....   [tags: writer, church, crusades]1274 words
(3.6 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Chaucer and Religion Essay - Chaucer and Religion It is very rare that a book is written without the opinions of the author being clearly expressed somewhere within that book. Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is one such book. In the General Prologue alone, by viewing Chaucer’s description of the Knight, the Prioress, and the Friar, the reader is able to pick up on Chaucer’s satirical humor toward the church of the 14th century. The first male traveler mentioned is the chivalrous Knight. It is interesting that Chaucer chooses to introduce The Knight as the first character....   [tags: essays papers]678 words
(1.9 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Learning About Medieval Life and Society from Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales - Learning About Medieval Life and Society from Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales I have been studying Geoffrey Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, of which I looked specifically at six portraits, these being: the Knight, his son, a young squire, the prioress, the wife of Bath, the Miller and the Pardoner. From these portraits I was able to observe the ways of life and society in medieval times. I found out about social status, fashion, wealth, romantic love, the importance of manners and the church during this era - and these are just the topics I took particular interest in; there were many other areas of medieval life and society...   [tags: Papers]1227 words
(3.5 pages)
Good Essays[preview]
Essay on Jest and Earnest in Chaucer's Work - Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London around 1342, though the details are vague at best, and lived until 1400. Little is known of his early education, but his works show that he could read French, Latin, and Italian, and as such was clearly very well educated, and it is also known that he spent much of his life close to the centres of English power because the first reports of Chaucer come from 1357 as a page in the household of Prince Lionel before he went to serve for Edward III in France, where he was captured and ransomed....   [tags: European Literature]2373 words
(6.8 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Women in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay - The only two women most significant and described in great detail in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer who provide the greatest insight into contemporary medieval society are the Wife of Bath and the Prioress. These two women appear similar in the General Prologue of the poem but, as we see through their tales, they are quite unique women and most importantly very different from one another. By examining both the Wife of Bath and the Prioress's tales, we are able to see the stark contrast between their social standards and behavior....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales Essays]900 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays[preview]

Related Searches

Prioress         General Prologue         Canterbury Tales         Chaucer         Educated Person         Manners         Other Characters         Opposite        

It was because having manners and being educated gave her joy, something that is wrong for a nun. Having manners for her was like giving a candy to a little boy. Also the author describes with a lot of details her manners to show us how important her behavior was for herself, an a nun's behavior should be reflected on other people not on herself.

All of Chaucer's nun actions as behaving and acting as nun were superb, in an ironic way. Her physical description was described with perfection nun showing the irony in these minor details. "Her nose well-shaped; her eyes bright as glass; her mouth very small, and soft and read; an indeed she had a fine forehead." (153-155) The description of her beauty reflects how she was from her inside. The author gives great importance to small things to makes us see how the nun Prioress was. One example is when he wrote about her fine forehead. To most people the forehead is not an important aspect of the physical characteristics of a person, only in some cases where the forehead is tremendously big or very small. However, the author talks about her fine forehead with sarcasm because he is telling us how this small characteristic, were reflected so well in the nun Prioress. Every small detail is what made her perfection as a whole, perfection meaning the opposite.

One thing the nun had that showed irony in her behavior, was her tender feelings. The author is sarcastic when he uses the example of her feelings for a mouse and that she was so charitable and full of pity. "She was so charitable and so full of pity that she would weep if she saw a mouse caught in a trap and dead or bleeding." (145) Another example that illustrates the irony and how the author was sarcastic is by showing her big actions on animals rather than to human beings. "She had a few small dogs that she fed with roast meat, or milk and fine bread; but she wept indeed if one of them died, or if someone hit it smartly with a stick-she was feeling tender heart." (150) This example illustrates how soft she was, and also that she gave great importance to little things rather than great importance to big ones. The Knight is one example of a person in the general prologue, who gave importance to great things, which fought for big reasons. In contrast the author illustrates the nun Prioress, as a person with the opposite view of the world. The knight would never give better food to some dogs rather that to the people who needed it. On the other hand the nun gave great importance and attention to her dog, or a mouse that was bleeding, rather than to people. That is why the author does not give examples of the nun helping people, or doing good

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *