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Chaucer, monks, monastery


The two monks that appear in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the pilgrim Daun Piers and Daun John in the Shipman's Tale, seem to be everything one would expect from medieval estates satire. They are attractive outdoorsmen with sophisticated appetites, fine clothing, and healthy complexions; in spite of their vows of poverty, they are the very image oof medieval prosperity. Although Chaucer conforms to the image of the worldly monk familiar to his audience, his intentions are more complex than simply to replicate and confirm the stereotype. In addition, he calls attention to the effects of the stereotype on the clerics themselves. The extended endorsement of the materialistic, active life of the Monk in the General Prologue is impossible to ignore, but recent criticism usually regards it as ironic or satiric, assuming that Chaucer held the opposite opinion. However, examining the portrayal of monks in The Canterbury Tales as a whole reveals an attitude that is sympathetic with, but not identical to, the narrator's opinion.