Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The religious nature of various tales that comprise Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is a matter that has long been recognized, The purpose of the pilgrimage to Canterbury is a religious purpose, It is only natural that such a wide collection of representatives of the religious profession should be present and quite likely that medieval controversies in religious practice should arise. The tales of the Friar and Summoner, the Prioress and the Second Nun, the Pardoner and Monk, and the Nun's Priest and the Parson all contain an expressed concern with the medieval theme of man's relationship with God, can all be linked by various parallels in theme and method of presentation, an taken as a group demonstrate the medieval variety of opinion with regard to moral instruction and the proper way to get to heaven. It is appropriate that Chaucer presents such a wide variety of representatives of the religious orders, that each representative has his own individual characteristics , that the Friar and the Summoner, the Prioress and Nun, the Pardoner and Monk, and the Priest and the Parson are depicted in actual practice of their assigned duties. As the telling of the tales progress, two major questions arise: (1) what is the proper way for man to approach getting to heaven and (2) what is the proper way to go about moral instruction. Evidence from the relationships that exist between medieval guides and texts for the method of preaching sermons and the purpose and method of the sermon tales themselves and from the continual debate over tale-telling and moral instruction bear out a heavy emphasis on the concerns of medieval sermon and homily.