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Prologue of the Prioress in Canterbury Tales

In: English and Literature

Submitted By alice78ivy
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In the Middle Ages, a woman might have several reasons to be a nun. Some of them, for example, wanted to dedicate themselves to the God; or their families couldn’t afford a daughter and sent them to the convent; or they were not attractive enough to appeal a man and got marriage so they went to the convent. Although we don’t know the reason the prioress becoming the nun, she mustn’t have gone to the convent because of believing in god for she lacked a true religious calling. Besides, as for her background, there are many suggestions she was from a noble family. Last but not the least, the brooch the prioress wore had some words: “Amor vincit omnia” which means “love conquers all”. Nevertheless, her “amor” wasn’t to the god but to other things like her appearance or her table manner. She was a representative of the decline of religious world.
The order of prologue is an evidence of social class. In the Middle Ages, knights were the highest class of non-hereditary nobility. Therefore, it is acceptable that the narrator introduced the knight, his son and the yeoman first. However, the prioress comes next while clergy was not considered one of the social classes in the Middle Ages. The status of her family might be so high that she still ranked fourth among the pilgrims though she had not been a member of the noble society for a long time. In addition, the prioress was the first person had name in the prologue. Even men in the Middle Ages should have enough social status and their names were possible to be recorded; however, the prioress’ name was recorded in the prologue. Besides, there is an irony that clergies were introduced by the narrator before others having social class. They had to only connect to the religion and deny things from outside world, but the order of the introduction misled the readers that there wasn’t an apparent line between secular and religious...

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