The Canterbury Tales

what the Parson tells me about medieval English society?


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The Parson’s tale is not actually a tale as such, but a lengthy medieval sermon on the subject of penitence. THe tale tells us that Medieval society was concerned with sin and the afterlife. There are a number of conditions to penitence, including the intensity of the sin committed, the haste to contrition and the number of times the sin was committed. The fruit of this penitence is goodness and redemption in Christ. After all the stories of indulgence, sin and cheating, the Parsons tale seems to point to a lesson. THe Parson seems to say that paradise is only attainable through spiritual poverty and by avoiding sin. This sounds rather ironic considering what Chaucer has had to say about corruption within the church and his characters. Still Heaven and "paradise" in the afterlife was very much on their minds.