Geoffrey Chaucer ‘The Canterbury Tales – The General Prologue’ ctd.

We enter the clergy corner, which is quite full. The first one described here is the Prioress. She is described with a healthy measure of irony – she is a very dainty lady, with impeccable table manners. She is also very tender-hearted and cries whenever she sees a mouse caught in a trap. She has several small dogs which she feeds on roasted meat, milk and white bread and she dotes on them. She can speak French “after the scole of Straford at the Bowe”, i.e. not pure Parisian French. She is also quite a worldly lady, since her rosary beads are decorated with a gold brooch with the inscription “Amor vincit omnia”, or “Love conquers all”, which could be interpreted as referring to divine love, but somehow I doubt it. She is accompanied by another nun and three priests (who later on got merged into one).

The Monk is a hale and robust fellow, whose greatest passion is horse-riding and hunting. He could be an abbot, but so far he is only “kepere of the celle”, or the prior of the branch monastery. He is also responsbile for overseeing the distant property belonging to his monastery, so it’s a pretext for him to travel a lot and not pay much attention to the traditional monastic business of praying, studying and manual work, which he considers out-of-date.


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