Bryn Tomlinson Wk 2 Canterbury Pilgrim Paper.doc

Chaucers opinion of the clerk while much of chaucers

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remaining a student, in a constant pursuit of knowledge, which he could impart to his students. Chaucer’s Opinion of the Clerk While much of Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” is rife with irony and sarcasm, when describing the clerk, I feel he speaks with more deference and respect. I believe that this is because the clerk, more so than any of the other characters, save the narrator, was modeled after his own life. Chaucer had few favorites in this tale, as he speaks about most of the pilgrims regarding their greed, pride, rudeness, or general lack of morals and virtue. In the case of the clerk, though, he seems to admire that he is studious, cares less for material things than the pursuit of knowledge, and only speaks when he feels it is important to do so, or he has something of worth to impart. In the prologue to ‘The Clerk’s Tale’ I believe Chaucer is speaking from the narrator’s point of view when, in line 21, he says “This worthy clerk benignely answered” (Benson, 2006), clearly prefacing what the clerk is about to say with the fact that he himself believes it comes from a “worthy” source. Even when Chaucer is speaking from another character’s point of view he is complimentary, and sounds sincere, such as in lines 5 and 6, when the Host states “I trowe ye studie aboute som sophyme; But Salomon seith `every thyng hath tyme.'” (Benson, 2006). To me this suggests that the clerk is seen as thoughtful by the Host, and it is assumed that he is
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Tomlinson 4 thinking about some serious problem. I believe this shows a bit of deference and respect, in the Host assuming that he is being scholarly in his quietude. Chaucer frequently describes the Prioress, Monk, Friar, and others, as having many material, gluttonous, and prideful concerns, he ascribes quite a different attitude to the clerk. In lines 290 thru 293 he tells us “And he was not right fat, I undertake, But looked holwe, and therto sobrely. Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy,” (Chaucer). Again in lines 300 thru 304 he shows his admiration for the values which the clerk displays by saying; Yit hadde he but litel gold in cofre; But al that he mighte of his freendes hente, On books and on lerning he it spent, and bisily gan for the soules praye Of hem that yaf him wherewith to scoleye (Chaucer).
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