Canterbury Tales Comparison

“If gold rusts, what shall iron do” (502)? This question seems to be the basis of the comparison between the parson and the reeve. One, a good man on the inside and out, the other, a wonderful fascade to hide his true personality. Althgough completely different, one tries to imitate the other to make himself appear a good man.

The parson embodied what a preacher of the Lord should be. He was honest, kind, truthful, “benign, and wonderfully diligent” (485). Although he was a righteous man eh did not belittle or condemn those who were not as holy as he was. However he woudl highly scold those who were “obstinate” (523). He was a man who practied what he preached and led people not by his words, but his good actions. He would even give the poor parishoners some of his own moeney and possessions. He felt that it was imporrible “to find a filthy shepherd and a clean sheep” (506) and that if he was a priest (a man who is closer to God than most) is corrupt, then how could he expect his parishoners to be honest? There is no counter representation for the parson because with all of the good deeds he has done for others, when Chaucer says he believes “there is not better priest anywhere” (526) he believes it to be true, and so does the reader.

The reeve was a thin, “choleric” (589) man. He was very clever and wilely, and could not be tricked by other. He was very knowledgable about about predicting what the yeild of his crops would be. Most people were afraid of him and he had a plesant home in a meadow. It would seem that he would have a sort of unhappy dreary home, but that was not the case. A lot of his master’s properties were under his control and power, and he tricked his lorfd into getting most things. He would lend and sell the lords own properties back to him, and he privately had more riches than his lord. He also learned the trade of being a craftsman and a carpenter at a young age.

However wicked the reeve may be on the inside, he tries to make others see him as a good man. The top of his head is cut just like a priest’s hair would be. He also tucked in his coat like a friar, and rode in the back, which others could perceive that it was his way of trying to protect them. What showed me this was all a facade was that he rode with a rust sword, which was probably iron. His rustic iron sowrd is a representation of how he is corrupt, and this is not told but cleverly implied by Chaucer. One may be a good man, the other is good but covers up his bad deeds, its all just a matter of choice by the reader.


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