Knight and Parson in the Prologue to Canterbury Tales
Knight and parson both the characters are very minutely painted by the poet in “Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”. They have very less shortcomings. Knight idealizes Chivalry whereas Parson is an ideal for religious class. Chaucer’s characterization is worth mentioning, as he is a keen observer of humanity. He knows human nature very well and by closely observing it, depicts in detail what he sees. His characters are not motionless. They move, laugh and talk on the way to Canterbury. Chaucer is called a painter of words. He makes pen pictures of characters whom he sees during his journey. Like a dramatist, he first describes his characters and then by mentioning their attributes, leaves on his readers to judge them. Let us shed light on both the parallel characters one by one.
The Knight in Prologue to the Canterbury Tales:
Knight is the very first character of Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Chaucer describes him a brave and lovely person. He fought for his country as well as for his religion. Chaucer does not only observe his clothes but also his nature. According to him, the Knight likes simplicity. He is accompanied by a Square. He has won many battles for his people. He lacks pride unlike other knights of the era. Bravery and courtesy are his two major ingredients, which have been observed by Chaucer. The Knight, on many occasions, was awarded to be the head of table. He stood behind his masters at the time of their feasting. Knight is a symbol of upper class of fourteenth century.
The Parson in Prologue to the Canterbury Tales:
On the other hand, parson is a symbol of religious. By reading about this character, reader could easily draw conclusion that total religious class was not corrupt at all. There were some persons in that society, which were spending life for others. The Parson was very humble and generous person. He gave tithes of others from his own pocket. He visited the oppressed people even in rain with a stick in his hand. He was very pious man, who did his best to save himself from the dread of God. Chaucer describes parson as an ideal religious person in “Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”. He helped the poor as well as sinners. He loved sinners but hated sin. He was of the view that if gold rusted what would iron do. He first acted on the gospel of Christ and then preached it to other people.
Similarities In Parson and Knight:
For the sake of comparison, it would be advantageous to mention here that the knight, the parson and the clerk are idealized conceptions. Chaucer has given them superiority on other characters on the basis of their behaviors. Knight and parson both are humble and pious. Knight was living life for his country and religion. He fought for his country and religion. Similarly, parson also shared the same attributes. He was also living a life, which was devoted to either God or his creation (humanity). Thus, common characteristics of both of them are that they were not living for themselves but for others. They liked simplicity. They did not seek attention of others. They were not corrupt and they did not feel proud in helping others in any way. Consequent thereupon, both these characters share many similarities to the extent of simplicity, helping other people and spending life for religion.
Dissimilarities In Parson and Knight:
So far as dissimilarities in them are concerned, the knight is a representative of feudalism whereas the parson is a symbol of religious class. In this way, the parson represents virtue in ecclesiastical world but the knight in secular world. According to Chaucer, the parson was a poor person but the Knight did not seem to be poor but a person from upper class. The knight shared qualities of bravery. Meaning thereby, he served humanity with his strong body and training but the parson helped the deities with his pure heart. Knight was good in the eyes of his masters but the parson wanted to become virtuous in the eyes of God. Knight is a person who signified worldly success but the parson indicated the success in eternal life.
By and large the final analysis of the above discussion is that Chaucer very skillfully paints knight and the parson in “Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”. Very rare characters represent virtue of the fourteen centuries. Most of the characters are either corrupt or bad but the knight and parson are different from them. They are neither corrupt nor bad from their heart. They share similarities such as humble life, modest behavior, serving nature and above all representation of their specific classes.
Chaucer has balanced his book by describing a character in contrast to the other. Parson is not in contrast to the knight in “Prologue to the Canterbury Tales” but similar to it in one way or the other. In many manners, knight and parson are similar to each other as they both have common attributes. Hence, there are more similarities but fewer divergences in parson and knight in “Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”.
- Compare and contrast the knight with parson in “Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”