Comparison and Contrast of the ‘Squire’ and ‘Nun’s Prioress’ in
‘Geoffrey Chaucer’s: “The Canterbury Tales”’
Chaucer the great English writer saved his name eternally when he wrote two of
the most famous poems in English literature: ‘Troilus and Criseyde’ and
‘The Canterbury Tales.’ Though Chaucer never finished the latter, it still
holds a major position in literature because of the satirical style he used to
mock the feudal estates. Now, the use of pilgrimage in English Literature
was very popular at the time of Chaucer, so ‘The Canterbury Tales’ was about
a group of people going on a pilgrimage together. Stock Characters too,
were well admired in a person’s work, and though Chaucer used a lot of
characters that are typical icons in literature, he was famous for making his
characters unique. Chaucer fired his attacks on the feudal estates through the
introduction of these typical, yet individual, characters in his ‘The General
mentioned the ‘Squire,’ who was the son of the noble ‘Knight’, which
made him of the ‘Noble’ estate. Further description of the squire showed
that though Chaucer the Narrator admired him, yet Chaucer the Poet was
skeptical. The same admiration and skepticism occurred when the supreme nun in
the prior the ‘Nun’s Prioress,’ was mentioned, who was of the
‘Clergy,’ estate. The comparison and contrast between the two different
characters that belonged to two different estates shall prove this point.
the physical description of both characters showed us that the two characters
were beautiful. Chaucer the Narrator stated, that Madam Eglantine, or the
Nun’s Prioress had: a very coy smile, a pleated headdress, well-formed nose,
eyes as gray as glass, small full red lips, a fair forehead, and big hips. While
Chaucer the Poet wondered why someone devoted to god is still interested in
worldly things, like looking pretty to be admired by human beings. Similarly,
the Squire: had curly hair, was of moderate length, and was covered in flowers.
Whereas Chaucer the Poet thought that the Squire was not the type of man
training to become a Knight, who’s duty is to fight for his God, his
Lord and his Lady.
the mental psychology of the two characters showed us that both are actually
kind hearted and sweet. Chaucer the Narrator liked the Nun’s Prioress’
behavior because she was so charitable, friendly and merciful. Unlike Chaucer
the Poet’s inclination, because he thinks that the Nun’s Prioress is
actually too sensitive, to the extent of sentimentality. ‘She would weepe
if that she saw a mous’ (p.218, 144). Likewise, Chaucer the Narrator
thought the Squire was fast, strong, fresh, a fantastic singer, a splendid
painter, a wonderful writer, and also very humble. In contrast though, Chaucer
the Poet thought that his absent mind that cares more for making up songs and
whistling is not going to let him develop his skills to become a great Knight.
‘Singing he was, or floiting, al the day:’ (p.217, 91).
from reading the short texts on both characters we can gather that their Body
Humor is ‘Sanguine’. Chaucer the Narrator explains how the hot-blooded
Nun’s Prioress, has a broche on with the letter ‘A’ after ‘Amor
vincit omnia’, which means ‘Love Conquers All.’ Chaucer’s cynicism
stems from the fact that someone married to God should not bother about
‘love.’ The same with the hot-blooded Squire who is described as a ‘Lovere
and a lust bacheler,’ (p.217, 80). The Squire should worry about more
important things rather than just think of ‘love,’ especially since he’s
on a pilgrimage.
conclusion, even though the Nun’s Prioress and the Squire came from a
different estate, they show many similarities, like: their beautiful physical
appearance, their absent mind that cares about trivial things and their
obsession with love. Therefore, Chaucer the Poet delivered his ironical contempt
through the enthusiasm and admiration of Chaucer the Narrator, making his stock
characters special, and his message light.