Quotes About The Parson in The Canterbury Tales

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will examine the most righteous of the pilgrims in Geoffrey Chaucer's 'The Canterbury Tales.' The Parson is a religious man who lives a simple, good life aligned with the teachings of the Bible.


In a world filled with people who try to justify their poor decisions rather than doing the right thing, there are few who hold themselves to a higher standard than the Parson. In The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, the Parson is the noblest of the characters. The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories told by people from various backgrounds who all met at an inn while on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. Although they have little in common, they decide to keep one another company along the way. The group passes time by telling one another stories. Although most of the stories are intended to be entertaining, the Parson takes his opportunity to preach a sermon. In this lesson, we will examine the character of the Parson by looking at the quotes about him.

The Prologue

In the prologue, each of the characters is introduced. When describing the Parson, the narrator says, 'There was a good man of religion, too, A country parson, poor, I warrant you; But rich he was in holy thought and work. He was a learned man also, a clerk, Who Christ's own gospel truly sought to preach; Devoutly his parishioners would he teach.' Parishioners are the people of the Parson's church. This quote tells us that the Parson not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk. Although he did not have much money, he was rich in spirit and really tried to live his life according to God's Word.

Many who do good works do so for the feeling of superiority it gives them, but not the Parson. The narrator says, 'And holy though he was, and virtuous, To sinners he was not impiteous (cruel), Nor haughty in his speech, nor too divine, But in all teaching prudent and benign.' While he tried to lead by example, he didn't judge those who were less virtuous than himself.

The Pardoner's Target

In contrast to the Parson, the Pardoner is the most corrupt of all the pilgrims. A pardoner is someone who sells religious favors for profit. When he meets the Parson, he sees an opportunity to con him. The Pardoner thinks, 'Some simple parson, then this paragon In that one day more money stood to gain Than the poor dupe in two months could attain. And thus, with flattery and suchlike japes (manipulations), He made the parson and the rest his apes.' In this quote, we can see that evil-doers, like the Pardoner, feel as though they are more intelligent than the good people of the world who don't consider evil and manipulative thoughts.

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