Masters Thesis

Chaucer's criticism of the church in The Canterbury tales

Much research and critical analyses have been done concerning Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem, The Canterbury Tales. The various characters in this work have been examined thoroughly and the mechanics of the poem have been scrutinized and dissected mercilessly over the centuries. My interest has been to discover how and why Chaucer used so many Scriptural verses and Biblical references in the stories, most of which were adapted versions of familiar folktales and stories by contemporary writers, such as, Boccaccio and Petrarch. After a review of historical events occurring during that tumultuous 14th century, particularly those related to the religious unrest of the time, it became apparent that Chaucer was, in a very subtle way, using the characters and their stories as a veiled criticism of the Catholic Church. The prologues and stories told by The Wife of Bath, The Summoner, and The Pardoner illustrate how and why Chaucer used these characters as that criticism.

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