The Canterbury Tales Presents:


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Catholic Encyclopedia entry for a friar

Summary: The Friar is a very jolly fellow who is sworn to a life of poverty. Out of all of Chaucer's characters, he is one of the only men who has a name, which is Hubert. Despite his position in the church, he is not very God like. He mainly uses his position to party with the rich, and take from the poor.

Characteristics: Being very pale,this simple characteristic shows the audience that the Friar does not obey his duty. He should be very tan if he were helping the poor, out in the sun, like he's suppose to. He is also chubby, which also contradicts his position. He is also bald and wears double worsted clothes, and is very familiar with all of the innkeepers and barmaids at every tavern.

Daily Behavior: Throughout the day, the Friar carries out a couple of different duties. He fixes marriages, in which he gives the bride some type of gift. He gives the sense that he flirts with women often, for he keeps pins and pocket knives in his tippet, in case a pretty woman were to come across him. He claims that he is licensed to hear shrifts, and yet he charges his customers for forgiveness. He loves to sing, play the hurdy gurdy, and the harp. He would sometimes come to arbitrate disputes, and of course, charged a small fee in doing so.

Vocabulary:
  • friar: a member of a religious group sworn to poverty and living on charitable donations.
  • wanton: playful; jolly
  • Limiter: a friar licensed to beg in limited areas.
  • confessions: church rites in which people confess of their sins to clergy members. Only certain friars were licensed to hear confessions.
  • shrift: confession
  • well shriven: completely forgiven through the rite of confession.
  • verity: truth
  • tippet: an extension of a hood or sleeve, used as a pocket.
  • hurdy gurdy: a stringed musical instrument, similar to a lute, played by turning a crank while pressing down keys.
  • double worsted: a strong, fairly costly fabric made from tightly twisted woolen yarn.
  • semi-cope: a short cloak

Allusions:
  • Four Orders: The four groups of friars - Dominican, Franciscan, Carmelite, and Augustinian.

His Tale:
Naturally, the Friar tells a tale about a Summoner, making him look like a bad person. He accuses the Summoner of being a very lewd and devilish man. He blackmails prostitutes into turning in their customers in order to receive safety. It is known that he would alslo ask them for sexual services before finishing the deal. This was very good for the Summoner, for those committed of lechery payed the biggest debt, which they pocketed. One day, on a trip to summon widow, the Summoner is confronted by a Yeoman dressed in green. He lies about his position and says that he is a baliff, since everyone hates Summoners. They talk to each other, and eventually the Summoner learns that the Yeoman is actually the Devil. He asks him why he appears as a Yeoman, and the Devil says that he can appear in any shape or form.