The Nun: Perfect or Pretentious
In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer paints an almost perfect image of the Nun (or Prioress). Almost every quality Chaucer describes about her comes across in a very positive way to the audience. However, many of these qualities that seem positive can actually be viewed as signs of an extremely fake and pretentious individual. In this paper I will discuss how the Nun is portrayed in a more positive manner than what she deserves, and how many of the positive qualities actually describe a fake individual rather than one who is doing God’s work.
“With obvious pleasure, graceful, lady-like/ Working hard to appear amused, but of striking/ ...view middle of the document...
This example also shows that she places a high priority on her image and wants to be involved in everything. Typically this would not be seen as a negative quality for an individual, but this goes against the normal order of a Nun because they usually want to be in the background and unnoticed.
Other prime examples of how her qualities are projected in a false manners are: “She helped herself to meat with immense discretion” (136) and “By seeing a mouse caught in a trap, dead/ Or bleeding, she barely controlled the tears she shed” (144-145). These descriptions make
the reader believe that the reason she is so selective with meat is because she is so soft hearted, and pitiful for any person or animal in suffering that she would not consume meat. Yet owns a pack of small dogs that she feeds meat, and not only meat but, “Roasted meats, milk and fine white bread” (147). This is a total contradiction because during Chaucer’s times there were thousands of human beings that suffered every day from starvation and hunger. Ignoring this, the Nun feeds some of the finest and rarest foods during this time to her pets. In my opinion, feeding roasted meats and fine bread to animals rather than hungry humans is an ungodly use of resources.
These illustrations show that many of the positive qualities Chaucer portrays in the Nun can actually be taken in a negative context that paint the image of an extremely fake and conflicted individual. An individual that would rather focus her energy in looking perfect and worldly, instead of investing her time and resources into helping others and fulfilling her vows to the Church.