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Prioress Tale

  • Date Submitted: 03/03/2013 08:29 PM
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Numair Ehtsham
British Literature 1st
16 November 2012

Anti-Semitism in Prioress’s Tale

The medieval times in which Chaucer lived through were full of stories exemplifying conflicts between Judaism and Christianity. Many Christians at this time saw Jews as people who were only concerned with worldly possessions, yet they saw themselves as spiritual people only with no care for tangible possess-
ions. There had grown a form of religious rivalry between the two. These aspects of the time are present in The Canterbury Tales. The Judeo-Christian relationship is particularly present in the Prioress’s Tale. Chaucer utilizes The Prioress’s Tale as a commentary on the anti-Semitic culture of the churches through an allusion to a story of a Christian cleric.
Before even reading the tale, one can easily differentiate the Prioress’s Tale from the other tales. Prioress’s Tale is written in seven line stanzas in which three lines rhyme. Rhyme royal is the name of the stanza format in the tale. Prioress’s Tale is in the genre known as miracle of the Virgin. The genre was popular in the earlier years of Chaucer’s time signifying the tale was an earlier work of Chaucer’s that was refurbished for the purpose of The Canterbury Tales.   Upon reading the prologue, the tale has been built up to have a religious theme which follows the trends of the Prioress. The tale begins with a city in Asia occupied by both Christians and Jews. The description of the Jews,” hateful to Christ and his followers,” foretells a conflict between the Jewish community in the town and the Christian community. A small, Christian school stood at the end of a street where the Jewish community resided. A child of a widow went to school, and he was a devout Christian. Whenever he saw an image of Mary, he would kneel down and recite his Ave Maria. Hearing the elder classmen in his school recite Alma redemptoris, the child inquired the meaning of the song. One of the students reciting the song...


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