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The Nun (Prioress): Perfect or Pretentious

In: English and Literature

Submitted By cmcdonald4545
Words 471
Pages 2
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/ Dignity and courtly importance” (138-140). Many readers may look at everything here as a positive quality in the Nun, seeing that she is graceful and with striking dignity. However, one might argue that by “Working hard to appear amused” (139) she is simply forcing herself to appear to be drawn into whatever her surroundings are. She is not showing her true emotions or at least not showing them in her true form. 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...

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