The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story
Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
It is ful fair to been y-clept, 'Madame,'
And goon to vigilyes al bifore,
And have a mantel royalliche y-bore.
(General Prologue 376 – 378)
The upwardly mobile wives of the guildsmen like to display their social status conspicuously. For the women of this class, the ability to get noticed is an important "perk" of having money.
But rather wolde [the Parson] yeven, out of doute,
Unto his povre parisshens aboute
Of his offring, and eek of his substaunce.
(General Prologue 487 – 489)
The Parson's generosity to the poor is what marks him as a successful religious figure, and distinguishes him from other religious figures like the Summoner and Pardoner, who take from, rather than give to, the poor.
[The Plowman] wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve,
For Cristes sake, for every povre wight,
Withouten hyre, if it lay in his might.
(General Prologue 536 – 538)
The figure of the plowman is a medieval symbol of the poor. The fact that this plowman works not just for himself, but for all poor men, reinforces this symbolism and speaks to a vision of the solidarity of the poor.