Twenty nine pilgrims gathered in “Tabbard” INN. They werepreparing to do pilgrimage in the following morning becuase it was almost dark and the roads were full of dangers. With the suggestion of the owner of “Tabbard” INN, they all agreed to tell two stories on the way to Canterbury an two other stories on the way back to ‘tabbard” INN. Those who could tell the best stories would be given reward; free of charge to stay, eat and drink in ‘tabbard” INN. The followings are brief description of five ecclesiastical characters of the tales.
Ecclesiastical Characters of Canterbury tales
The parson was poor in a wordly sense but rich in holy thoughts and works. He was man of learning. Hr truly preached the gospel of Christ, and sincerely looked after the spiritual welfare of his flock. He never shirked visiting his parishioners becase of rain or thunder, sickness or trouble. He visited the high and the low, and he went to them on foot with a staff in his hand. He set a noble example for his parishioners by actually practicing what he preached.
He lived in his own parish and looked after his parishioners to prevent them from falling under the influence of the enemies of the church. He was a true priest, not a businessman aiming at money. This parson never excommunicated anybody in order to force payment of the tithes due to him. On the contrary, he helped his parishioner with money from collection of tithes.
The parson was kind-hearted and wonderfully industrious. He was not callous or haughty or contemptuous in dealing with sinners; on the contrary, he was soft spoken and sympathetic n giving them advie and instruction.
Hunting was indeed the monk’s favoruite pastime. According to the text hunters were not holy men, but he did not care about it and he did not hide his irritation with those who objected to it. he did not confine himself to the cloister, he did not read book and he did not work with his hand. He even defied St. Augustine’s directive that physical labor was necessary for monk. This monk did not believe that the world could be served either by hard study or by hard labor. Tehe monk kept swift greyhounds for hunting purposes. All his pleasure lay in tracking and hunting harers. Worldliness and fine living of the monk were greatly emphasized. The monk’s costume and equipment were most lavish. He had a large number of fine horses, when he went out the jingling of his horses’ bells couldbe heard from the distance.
This friar had performed a large number of marriage of young women at his own cost (probably they had been mistress). He was familiar to all the rich farmers and also worthy women in town. If he got enough money from the sinners he would say the sinners were repentant. He was of the opinion that the sinners instead of shedding tears of repentance and offering prayers should give money to the poor friar.
The friar used fair language to win the favour of women and where language failed, he tried to win them over with ornamental knives and pins. The friar knew the taverns and barmaids of every town far better than he new the lepers or beggars.
Physical appearances of the summoner was ugly. He had pimpled-face, a fire-red complexion, scabby brows, and shaggy beard. No medicine or cream could cure him of thepimples or the lumps on his cheeks. He was fond of garlics, onions and leeks and drinking strong wine, red as blood.
The summoner was morally corrupt. He would allow a fellow to keep a mistress for twelve month just for a quart of wine. And he could also take advantage of a girl (that is, he would seduce a girl if he got the opportunity). He taught people not to feels afraid of arch-deacon’s curse (excommunication) because he expressed the view tha by paying a good sum of money, fellow could get released from that curse.
The medieval pardoner had as his main occupation the selling of indulgences 9that is, the freedom or remission of punishment to repentant sunners) but he also sold religious relics and did some preaching. Indulgences were of varying degrees and were sold for various pricers. Although the money gained through them was meant to be handed over to the church, dishonest pardoners managedto keep it for themselves. This pardoner had a bag full to the brim with indulgences which he claimed to have brought directly from the pope at Rome. He also had in his possession several articles which he claimed holy relics.