Not long after becoming a yeoman for Lionel, Chaucer was kidnapped by French enemies of Prince Lionel in 1360. By 1367, Chaucer had become a an official Valet for King Edward Ill. In truth, Chaucer was never really a writer, but more of a civil servant to monarchs. With his duties came the traveling which probably inspired some of his writings and made them more detailed. Chaucer must have met a variety of people while working in the royal courts. His entire life was as a civil servant and he had ample time to make thorough observations of humans and their nature.
After reading just the Prologue, it is clear that Chaucer had a grim take on human nature. Nearly every character described has some sort of flaw. The most popular one was avarice. Even the characters that are expected to be honorable, such as the Doctor and the Summoned, are spoiled by greed. A doctor is the one person that can properly assign medicine to ill patients. A doctor is supposed to be honest and do his best to cure you of your sickness. Unfortunately, our Doctor is corrupt. Driven by cupidity, the Doctor has a deal tit the local apothecary to prescribe unnecessary drugs for a mere profit.
All his apothecaries in a tribe Were ready with the drugs he would prescribe And each made money from the other’s guile Chaucer then clearly states that the Doctor “had a special love of gold. ” Nuns are seen as holy, pure, and chaste women whose only will is to preach and pray under God’s house. The Nun with the company is quite different. She adorns herself with jewelry and a brooch that reads, “Amour Vinci Omni,” meaning “love dominates all First of all, nuns aren’t usually decorated with expensive jewelry. They live their lives in simple convents and pray for most of the day.
Secondly, and more importantly, nuns are to remain celibate. Although the Nun isn’t tempted by venal objects, her flaw lies in her want of love, which is unheard of for nuns. She attempts to feign gracefulness and purity with mannerisms and such classy mien. Perhaps the Nun is a metaphor for the corruption of the Church. The Church tried to cover up their mischievousness, but also built lavish churches and dressed in expensive clothing. The despised Summoned is the worst of them all. He is supposed to carry out he orders of the archdeacon, his boss, by summoning all sinners to the holy court.
The Summoned is easily bribed by a mere quart of alcohol. “[H]deed allow… Any good lad to keep a concubine. ” At times, this Summoned would gladly leave the people alone for a certain amount of money. He would also keep some of the money he got from fines that he was supposed to bring back to the archdeacon. As shown by these three characters, Chaucer was a cynical about human nature. His time spent in the royal courts mightn’t revealed to him what government officials were really doing, like taking bribes.
He knows that there is always some flaw in a person’s character. The Doctor, a person who should be caring more about his patients, cares more about gold and pecuniary objects. The Summoned, a religious official, is corrupt and is not fit to carry out the duties of the Church. The Nun is a where in the way that she thinks of love when she should be more oriented towards Church matters. Chaucer doses ‘t think much of human nature; he thinks there’s always another side to a person, a darker one. From the greedy doctor to the slut nun, Saucer’s pessimism is there.