In The Canterbury Tales, Who Is The Oxford Cleric?


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Oscar De La Huerte Profile
The Oxford cleric is a character who features in the prologue of the first tale in Group E of The Canterbury Tales.

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of 14th century stories written by Geoffery Chaucer, mainly in Middle English verse.

Who is the Oxford Cleric? The Oxford cleric appears in the prologue of what is popularly called 'The Clerk's Tale'.
The narrator describes the Oxford cleric as being a well-educated but rather poor student, who is quiet and respectful, and very dedicated to his studies.

In fact, Chaucer portrays him as a character who resorts to borrowing money from his friends so that he can fund his studies and purchase books.

The Oxford cleric always repays the money he borrows, and is endowed with several other positive attributes:

  • He is described as 'respectful in the extreme'
  • He says what he means without talking unnecessarily
  • He is enthusiastic about learning and teaching.
The role of the Oxford cleric is somewhat ambiguous in relation to the rest of the tale.

It is thought that he might be a device for contrasting some of the other, less ethical and moral characters that ensue.

If you're interested in the original text in which the Oxford cleric appears, you can find it here.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
The oxford Cleric was a poor student who, with any money he received, bought books.
Desribed as so skinny, he's called "hollow".

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