The Prioress Character in Canterbury Tales

The Prioress Character Analysis in Canterbury Tales:-

The character of the Prioress Canterbury Tales is promoted and can be analyzed in various perspectives in Canterbury Tales. The manner in which Chaucer has described it is very worth praising. This character shows the “Decline of the Church “as well as the religion, there is only texture and gimmick in religion, act has been vanished from the lives of the people ,there is nothing called to be the outstanding in religion. The manner in which, “The Prioress “has shown us, her food and drinking manners are not a disaster but a disaster of religion.

“At table she had been well taught withal,
And never from her lips let morsels fall,
Nor dipped her fingers deep in sauce, but ate(10)
With so much care the food upon her plate
That never driblet fell upon her breast.
In courtesy she had delight and zest.
Her upper lip was always wiped so clean
That in her cup was no iota seen”

In Prologue to the Canterbury Tales we find out only two females characters, one is linked to religious world and other one is attached to secular world. The wife of Bath character in Canterbury Tales is one of the best characters of Chaucer who is representative of her class. In Chaucer’s time the the women had no basic rights, they had to keep in their households, they had lack of freedom, they were tread as sex tool, they bestowed child but neglected by their husbands, we can say that there was a male dominant society. And character of wife is revolt against that norms that had nourished in that era. However, church also considered her as a tool of temptation, the Bible story was suggested in churches and was to be admitted that this sec actually , the cause of the fall of man.

Moreover, the lady of Knight was to be considered a goddess but in common houses she was treated as inferior animals by her husband but our wife of bath is not like that she is very much courage in herself. She has influence in her husband, she is not weak figure before male authority. She love freedom and cant live in the cage of marriage and church life, it seems that she does not live under any male.

In short, The prioress Character in Canterbury Tales is very vivid and clear. It was a custom of medieval that every writer wrote about women and satirized on them and woman was to be considered the agent of devil, Chaucer also wrote about various type of women in his work but his character were as real as they looked. Chaucer does not satirize on woman only but also he paints virtuous characters in his work like the characters of Virginia and Cecilia both are embodiment of all virtues.

The prioress role is very much coy and keen satire on religious agents. The prioress character is not merely delineation of any person in Canterbury tales but also a way of satirizing on religious departments. As we know, the prioress is head of the nun. This is a poet who is the first to makes a statement about her smile, in fact her smile is a satire “There was also a nun, a prioress,
Who, in her smiling, modest was and coy;
Her innocent smiling face proves that there is a presence of males in front of her. And it is usually considered that the smile of any young girl proves that there is a male company in front of her. Same way, whatever the poet suggests that, her shy or coy  smile prove that there should be males in front of her. “And certainly she was of great disport And full pleasant, and amiable of port And went to many pains to put on cheer Of court, and very dignified appear, And to be thought worthy of reverence. “But, to say something of her moral sense .Her name is “Madam Eglantine”, is actually ironical statement because Eglantine is a wild rose seems to be unexpected for her because such names used to be in romantic stories. “By Saint Eloy!” And she was known as Madam Eglantine.”

“There was also a nun, a prioress,
Who, in her smiling, modest was and coy;
Her greatest oath was but “By Saint Eloy!”
And she was known as Madam Eglantine.”

That puts us our ideas in doubtfulness about her chaste because love affairs, cheating, marriage and sexual pleasure are not parts of monastic life. Her name reveals that she may be indulge in any romance. She wears a locket around his neck, on which was written , ‘Love conquer all’. This means that it is not “Divine Love” but it is for towards “Worldly Love”.

And from there hung a brooch of golden sheen(40)
On which there was first written a crowned “A,”
And under, Amor Vincit Omnia.

Her eating manners,sitting on top of her table,shows that she belongs to an aristocrat clan because such a life is not a bed of stage; she is very unaware from a life of troublfulness and she has never seen a life of suffering,then who has opened her eyes to a rich family How can she spend a hard life,it seems that she is just performing formality at all.

The Prioress Character Contrast With The Wife of Bath:-

The character of the Prioress is come to under harsh ironical way when we are told that the way of her charity is on animals more than humans being,she feeds to animals that is consist of very different kind of food,which the ordinary humans being of that era did not have.

“She had some little dogs, too, that she fed
On roasted flesh, or milk and fine white bread.
But sore she’d weep if one of them were dead,
Or if men smote it with a rod to smart:”

But contrary of it, an other character the “Wife of Bath” suggests that she is also contrast of this character the thing comes to close us that so much charity is done by”Wife of Bath”, if anyone offered charity more than her then she would get annoyed with him,but such a compassion is lack of inside of that character that name is The Prioress .But she spends her money on animals instead of humans being,and it has become the motto of her charity.In the Wife of Bath and The Prioress  character we find out two various elements . One is a religious  woman and the other is whore but whore is doing prioress duty having been a red letter lady,on the other hand religious lady is busy in extravagant.

As far as the prioress character in Canterbury Tales is concerned,she appears a piece of laughter for us but inwardly she is keen satire on church life that days.The life of the prioress is often filled with miseries and she preaches that we should spend simple life but she does not do so.There is no question of having any nefarious thing in a sacred place like Church but she gets pets( dogs)“She had some little dogs, too, that she fedOn roasted flesh, or milk and fine white bread “which is too prohibited in church.It is also believed that in the lives of men and women are related to the churches, they lead simple life, yet within this topic we get a sense that any such attitude never ever are adopted by the prioress.The prioress breaks all such voices and customs,she rebels against in addition to”Church’s” life.She has been portrayed as modern woman herself boycotts old ideas and wears new type clothes.”For, truth to tell, she was not undergrown. Full stylish was her cloak, I was aware.Of coral small about her arm she’d bear.” We get to know when the writer talks about her physical appearance.

“Her nose was straight, her eyes as grey as glass,
Her mouth full small, and also soft and red;
But certainly she had a fair forehead;
It was almost a full span broad, I own,

That is also done on satirical way,When the writer talks about her forehead,he tells that her forehead is a very wide as span.Whenever the writer expresses her forehead that is always unveil and no” Nun” keeps her forehead unveils because that has been considered to be unholy.The prioress never minds about that case and considers that is not unholy that is part of life


 So,at least but not last, we can say that the prioress is open minded lady who is away from monastic life or its hardships.She has been brought up upper class family and does not know that how to live a simple.However,it is necessary that a monastic person should live simple life because common man may get lesson by him/her.As Chaucer himself suggests that in an other place that is under below:- 

“. . . . . .  …..If gold rusts . .  …………….what shall iron do

“Same is the case is here ,she does not care any holy things ,she goes against monastic life.Thus,end of the discussion we can conclude that the Character of the prioress in Canterbury tales can be analyzed very much by the poet, that is why it is famous that Chaucer”s realism is not match able than any one.


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Related questions according to university:-

1:-Describe character of the prioress in your owns words

2:-The Prioress Character Contrast With The Wife of Bath

3:-Write on Chaucer female character in Canterbury Tales

4:- The prioress tale in Canterbury tale

5:-What was Chaucer”s method of satirizing the prioress in Canterbury tales

6:- Describe physical traits of the prioress in Canterbury tales

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