confession in the canterbury tales

by Zach Kincaid
Chaucer is a fellow pilgrim on the road to Canterbury as he narrates the conversation and tales of those on the Canterbury Tales' journey: "But now is tyme to yow for to telle / How that we baren us that ilke nyght / Whan we were in that hostelrie alyght, / And after wol I telle of our viage,/ And all the remenaunt of oure pilgrimage.." (1). On the pilgrim's road Chaucer is able to document, on the ground level.

The story is divided into the telling of tales and the conversation between tales, some which account as confessory of personal actions or urge others to be reflective on their own, so to change vice to virtue and find salvation.

Chaucer exemplifies a changing opinion of confession that is reflective of his time, a time that would soon experience the conclusion of Catholic unity, and the opinions of Oxford don and preacher John Wyclif influence many. Might Chaucer have been influenced by Wyclif? Does the structure of his Canterbury Tales offer glimpses to the Wyclifite (or Lollard) proposition toward a new confession?

A majority of scholars agree that Chaucer remained Catholic until his death (2). Most also hold that the Canterbury Tales shows some Lollard sympathies (3). A few of his friends were Lollard Knights, namely Sir Lewis Clifford and Sir Richard Stury (4). Though Catholic pressure against Wyclif's ideas was not at its height, it is assumed that Chaucer recognized such tensions. As a longtime employee of the Crown which represented a part of the Holy Roman Empire, Chaucer would certainly have remained guarded to any Lollard influence.

However, there appears to be religious dichotomy in his work that has prompts one scholarto define him as a pre-Anglican, meaning that, "in his attitude to religion as to politics, war, chivalry, class and marriage, Chaucer was easygoing, ready to hear an opposite view and always quicker to laugh than to rage" (5). This may answer why Chaucer is able to foster confessional views similar to John Wyclif in the Canterbury Tales (6), and at the same time remain, for example, a devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mary (7).

Catholic confession is hierarchical; confession in the Canterbury Tales has a linear structure. "Also I prey yow to foryeve it me, / Al have I nat set folk in hir degree," the narrator says. "Heere in this tale, as that they sholde stonde- / My wit is short, ye may wel understonde" (8). Rank and sexuality are not of much importance on this journey; there is no hierarchical way the pilgrims are introduced in the General Prologue or the order they tell their tales. The pilgrims, in fact, draw lots to see who will tell the first tale (9).

In addition, each pilgrim has a similar objective of a pilgrimage, one of penance as part of traditional confession. However, no specific individual reasons are provided, so whether the Friar, Pardoner or Monk, those in the sacred professions, or Sailor, Miller, or Franklin, those in the secular profeesions, the common religious purpose is the same – pilgrimage as penance in keeping with confession. In the words of the host to all the pilgrims, "You go to Canterbury; may God speed / And the blest martyr soon requite your meed" (10).

This linear structure is enhanced further by the hypocritical way the clergy is described (with exception of the Clerk and Parson), greedy, gluttonous, and lustful. The General Prologue introduces the Pardoner as a charlatan selling pieces of Peter's sail and pig’s bones forged to represent relics from saints; he makes poor parsons "his apes" (11). The Friar easily gives penance it is said, because instead of a contrite heart, "Men moote yeve silver to the povre freres" (12). A third example is what the Host says of the Monk: "I pray to God, yeve hym confusioun / That first thee broghte unto religioun. / Thou woldest han been a tredefowel aright; / Haddwstow as greet a leeve as thou hast myght / To parfourne al thy lust in engendrure" (13).

The equal playing field among the pilgrims whispers Chaucer's religious leaning and sets the parameters for a discussion of confession in the Canterbury Tales. Among the conversations that accompany each tale, pilgrims share confessions with one another. It is safe to suggest that the reader also takes part in the conversation as Chaucer himself acts as an "unbiased" commentator (14).

Because confession cannot truly happen outside of honesty, this honest presentation to the reader makes an extended confession of sorts offered from the pilgrims' lips. Chaucer as narrator says, "That ye narette it nat my vileynye, / Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere / To telle yow hir wordes and hir cheere, / Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely," and further, "Who-so shal telle a tale after a man, / He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan / Everich a word, if it be in his charge, Al speke he never so rudeliche or large" (15).

Thus, the reader judges alongside the Host and other pilgrims, not only the tales, but also the spiritual wellbeing of the travelers on this holy road to Canterbury.

First, observe the exchanges between the tales of the Miller and Reeve (and thus the problem between the Friar and Summoner), followed by the Pardoner, the Wife of Bath, the Merchant, and finally the Franklin. The Parson and Chaucer’s retraction will be dealt with later.

The interaction between the Miller and Reeve is similar to the later dispute between the Friar and Summoner. In both cases jealousy fuels conversation and tales bathed in slander. The Reeve says to the drunk Miller who desires to share his tale, "Lat be thy lewed dronken harlotrye, / It is a synne and eek a greet folye / To apeyren any man or hym defame, / And eek to bryngen wyves in swich fame" (16). The Miller desires to share a story of a carpenter and his wife, and how a scholar tricks the carpenter to be intimate with his wife. The Reeve's comment not only addresses the competence of a drunk storyteller, a charge that the Manciple later brings to the Cook (17), but also the moral question of slander against one's neighbor because the Miller chooses a tale about a carpenter to offend the Reeve. However the Reeve’s Tale focuses on a miller; the Friar later tells of a summoner because "that of a somonour may no good be sayd" (18), and the Summoner on a friar. Each slanders the other one. The Miller does not heed the advise of the Reeve but, "He nolde his wordes for no man forbere, / But tolde his cherles tale in his manere” (19).

Surprisingly, the Reeve confesses his shortcomings that the Miller eludes to in his tale, that, "This white top writeth myne olde yeris, / Myn herte is also mowled as myne heris, / But if I fare as dooth an openers; That ilke fruyt is ever leng the wers" (20). But the Reeve also shares his judgement of the Miller: "Right in his cherles termes wol I speke, / I pray to God his nekke mote breke! / He kan wel in myn eye seen a stalke, / But in his owene he kan nat seen a balke" (21). Further, the Reeve says, "And therfore this proverbe is seyd ful sooth, / Hym thar nat wene wel that yvele dooth; / A gylour shal hymself bigyled be" (22). This exchange offers an example of attempted warning or restoration. The Miller is urged not to tell his tale because of his current behavior and the tale's subject matter. When the Miller fails to respond the Reeve summons a judgement on him that may simply be reactionary, but nonetheless has the appearance of truth aimed for the Miller’s reflection of his personal morality.

In the Pardoner's Prologue, the Pardoner admits with full clarity that he is a avaricious man. He starts with the ridiculous as he states that the relics he carries heals and also increases the harvest. He even says that he preaches only for covetous reasons:

Thus kan I preche agayn that same vice
Which that I use, and that is avarice.
But though myself be gilty in that synne,
Yet kan I maken oother folk to twynne
From avarice, and soore to repente. (23)

Does he believe that his preaching is effective? Does his honesty about his greed give credence for his preaching? The answer is negative on both counts. The Pardoner is as nonsensical as the three in his tale who go out searching for Death. The Pardoner is greedy but he is also dishonest, and his dishonesty breeds his avariciousness. Thus, his admittance of greed is not honest, and his preaching is not credible because he does not recognize his own greed in asking for pardons in exchange for money.

The Wife of Bath confesses her dissatisfaction of marriage in her prologue. "I holde a mouses herte nat worth a leek," she says, "That hath but oon hole for to sterte to, / And if that faille, thanne is al ydo" (24). The "hole" in her heart is the need for forgiveness and love. The Wife of Bath knows she is guilty of the charge of divorce and remarriage and thus the charge of adultery (25). She admits her guilt by reference to the Samaritan woman. "That I ne sholde wedded be but ones," she says, "Herkne eek, lo, which a sharpe word for the nones, / Biside a welle Jesus, God and Man, / Spak in repreeve of the Samaritan" (26).

She also finds fault with her husbands, and suggests that if women were the authors of Scripture, the wickedness of men would be more "than all the mark of Adam may redresse" (27). The Samaritan woman allows Jesus to prod her to repentance; the Wife of Bath does not reach this point of confession at the conclusion of her tale, but may by the conclusion of the Parson's sermon.

The Merchant's Prologue references the excellent wife in good and patient Griselda that the Clerk's tale addresses. In contrast, the Merchant shares his personal marriage tension. "I have a wyf," he says, "the worste that may be…Were I unbounden, al so moot I thee! / I wolde nevere eft comen in the snare" (28). He makes this assertion after only two months of marriage, but the Host agrees with him after the Merchant shares his tale. The host say,

I have a wyf, though that she povre be,
But of hir tonge a labbyng shrewe is she.
And yet she hath an heep of vices mo-
Ther-of no fors, lat alle swiche thynges go.
But wyte ye what, in conseil be it seyd,
Me reweth soore I am unto hire teyd. (29).

Both these men place trust in their fellow pilgrims with their "secret" regret of marriage. Where a priest might reprimand such thoughts, the pilgrims allow tales to be told that support such accusations and so too comfort those with similar "conseil" or secret confessions.

The Franklin comes to the "pilgrims' confessional" with the difficult family situation with his son. He responds to the Squire’s tale and wishes his son were like the Squire. He says, "I have a sone, and, by the Trinitee, / I hadde levere than twenty pound worth lond" (30). He desires his son be, "a man of swich discrecioun,"' but, "I have my sone snybbed, and yet shal, / For he to vertu listneth nat entende, / But for to pleye at dees, and to despende" (31). The assumption is that the Franklin does not know how to amend this behavior in his fatherly role, and if it were not for the host urging the Franklin to tell a tale "or breken his biheste," the Franklin would possibly have received further counsel from the Squire.

Because so much of the conversation surrounding the tales suggests confession, it is natural to now reflect on the ideas expressed in the tales themselves. It is best to begin with the Knight’s Tale and proceed through tales of the Miller, Pardoner, Wife of Bath, the Parson, and finally Chaucer's Retractions.

"For trewely the game is wel bigonne," says the host after the Knight's Tale, and all agree that it is "noble tale for the nones." (32). The tale has two knights who become prisoners because of defeat, enemies because of covetousness, and noble because of chivalry. The tale is set in a pre-Christian landscape, but it has several points that pertain to God and confession. Perhaps Chaucer begins with the Knight to communicate the overarching issue of satisfaction in God’s providential care. The Knight says:

Allas, why pleynen folk so in commune
On purveyaunce of God or of Fortune,
That yeveth hem ful ofte in many a gyse
Wel bettre than they kan hem-self devyse?
Som man desireth for to han richesse,
That cause is of his moerdre of greet siknesse.
And som man wolde out of his prisoun fayn,
That in his hous is of his meynee slayn.
Infinite harmes been in thai mateere,
We witen nat what thing we preyen here.
We faren as he that dronke is as a mous;
A dronke man woot wel he hath an hous,
But he noot which the righte wey is thider,
And to a dronke man the wey is slider.
And certes, in this world so faren we; (33)

It is important to recognize the satisfaction of God's providence as any pilgrimage begins because of the physical journey involved, but in particular to this pilgrimage because of the spiritual and mental expositions that the tales may or may not fulfill. If the conversations and tales are seen as a type of confession, than the accountable parties are the fellow pilgrims (and the reader) to be judge of where the "infinite harmes been in thai," but it is God’s providence that leads the confessor to Canterbury's cathedral. The Knight also addresses the omniscience of God:

The destinee, ministre general,
That executeth in the world overal
The purveiaunce that God hath seyn biforn,
So strong it is, that though the world had sworn
The contrarie of a thyng, by ye or nay,
Yet somtyme it shal fallen on a day
That falleth nat eft withinne a thousand yeere.
For certeinly, oure appetites heere,
Be it of werre, or pees, or hate, or love,
Al is this reuled by the sighte above. (34)

Elsewhere God is defined as "the firste moevere of the cause above," and, "men by this ordre wel discerne / That thilke moevere stable is and eterne" (35). This is important to Chaucer's first tale because it places God alone as supreme Knower and everyone else as "dronke is as a mous." It reiterates the structure of the Canterbury Tales, God and then everyone else. For, as the Knight’s tale says, "He moot be deed, the kyng as shal a page" (36).

The Miller follows the Knight with quite a different tale. His is one of Nicholas' trickery, who tells John the Carpenter that "Noees flood" is coming again soon, an occurrence he learns (supposedly) through a study of the stars. Nicholas suggests to John that hiding in a bathtub that he will hang from a tree is the best way to survive.

Nicholas plans to spend the same evening that John spends in the tub with John's wife. The Miller explains, "Ful sooth is this proverbe, it is no lye, / Men seyn right thus, alwey the nye slye / Maketh the ferre leeve (absent lover) to be looth (slooth)" (37). John trusts his friend and Nicholas even demands, "Thou shalt upon thy trouthe swere me heere / That to no wight thou shalt this conseil wreye (betray)" (38).

However, as a result of trickery and at its root covetousness, Nicholas betrays his friendship. The only recourse that Nicholas receives is accidental, a hot iron on his backside from the parish clerk.

Similar to the Knight's tale, The Miller's Tale has covetousness a central theme, but the outcomes are different. The Miller ends his tale, "for the moore part they loughe and pleyde" (39). In contrast, the Knight’s Tale concludes with a confession of sorts by Arcite who remembers Palamon’s original love toward Emily as he is dying and gives her back to his friend. The Miller says of Nicholas and his study of astronomy that, "Men sholde nat knowe of goddes pryvetee" (40). The Miller seems to substitute "goddes pryvetee" for laughter, and reconciliation through confession for a "scalded in the towte (a branded butt)" (41). The Reeve's tale balances the Miller when he concludes, "Hym thar nat wene wel that yvele dooth; / A gylour (cheater) shal hymself bigyled be" (42).

The tale told by the Pardoner involves three drunken men that begin a journey from a pub to find and slay Death. Along the way they pass an old man who directs them to an oak tree where he says Death will be found and also several bags of gold. They find the gold, forget their search for Death, but soon suffer death themselves. One man journeys to a nearby town, and the two others conspire to kill him when he returns. They do kill him, but the two die from drinking poison the other man brought back from town.

The tale demonstrates the Pardoner’s own greed; it represents an extended confession. The old man desires the men to change their ways. He says with no avail, "God save yow that boghte agayn mankynde, / And yow amende" (43). Instead, when the gold is found, any noble search for Death concludes. The Pardoner has opportunity through the old man he speaks about to recognize his own greed and mend his ways. Instead, he uses the story to seek gifts from his fellow pilgrims. He says,

Now, goode men, God foryeve yow youre trespas,
And ware yow fro the synne of avarice;
Myn hooly pardoun may yow alle warice,
So that ye offre nobles or sterlynges,
Or elles silver broches, spoones, rynges. (44)

His confession of a greed-filled heart in the prologue does not recognize what the host tells him after the tale, that, "Thou woldest make me kisse thyn olde breech, And swere it were a relyk of a seint" (45). The Pardoner is as ridiculous as the men searching for Death, hocking relics and taking pardons for sins. Because an avarice man is represented as a pardoner, Chaucer makes light of a system that seems more concerned on filling its coffers then mending a person's heart.

The Wife of Bath's Tale shows her struggle with self-esteem. It begins with a knight who seeks an answer to the question of what women want more than anything else. He journeys throughout the kingdom to discover and return the answer to his queen.

The answer is found on the lips of an old, foul woman who demands a promise of betrothal if the queen accepts the answer. The queen accepts and the knight is forced to wed. Over time the knight becomes quite bitter, so the woman offers him two options: one, to have her old and foul but faithful, or, two, as a young and fair maiden but with a chance she might find other suitors. He replies that whichever makes her happy is what he desires, he kisses her, and she becomes faithful, young, and fair.

In her prologue the Wife says, "Wommen desiren to have sovereynetee / As wel over hir housbond as hir love" (46). The tale grows from this feeling of inadequacy, a feeling that plausibly results in part to her age, and in part to her desire to have the "bridel" within her hand. The nature of the tale concludes with the husband desirous of his wife’s best fortune, and the wife responding in kind. Recall what the knight says to the two options:

My lady and my love, and wyf so deere,
I put me in youre wise governance.
Cheseth yourself, which may be moost plesance
And moost honour to yow and me also... (47)

This third option of chosing what makes her most happy, is unannounced, yet it is discovered through the sincere love of husband and wife, a love the Wife of Bath has not experienced. She does not take her own advise to love with sincerity, but in her conclusion says, "In parfit joye;-and Jesu Crist us sende, / Housbondes meeke, yonge, fressh abedde" (48).

She concludes her tale the way she characterized her own experience in her prologue, "And eek I praye Jesu shorte hir lyves, / That nat wol be governed by hir wyves" (49). She has not stopped long enough at the well with the Samaritan woman and Jesus to discover that her needs are spiritual and emotional, and not only physical in nature.

The Parson has a unique place in the tales for it serves as the conclusion. Chaucer characterizes the Parson in the General Prologue:

And though he hooly were and vertuous,
He was to synful man nat despitous,
Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne,
But in his techyng discreet and benygne;
To drawen folk to hevene by fairnesse,
By good ensample, this was his bisynesse.
But it were any persone obstinat,
What so he were, of heigh or lough estat,
Hym wolde he snybben sharply for the nonys.
A bettre preest, I trowe, that nowher noon ys.
He waited after no pompe and reverence,
Ne maked him a spiced conscience,
But Cristes loore, and Hise apostles twelve
He taughte, but first he folwed it hym-selve. (50)
The Host during the Shipman's Prologue says of the Parson the other description we know, that he smells "a Lollere in the wynde" (51). It is a sermon that the Parson presents after he tells the Host, "Thou getest fable noon ytoold for me" (52).

The frame set around the Parson's sermon is both his sincerity and Wyclifite sympathy. Instead of a tale the Parson tells in plain truth what is needed as they approach Canterbury, confession and penance. It is what Chaucer the pilgrim needs as vulgarity and drunkenness is put aside and, "To shewe yow the wey, in this viage, / Of thilke parfit glorious pilgrymage / That highte Jerusalem celestial" (53). The sermon is said to all the pilgrims with, "no pompe and reverence, / Ne maked him a spiced conscience" (54), as the Parson is described in the General Prologue. His sincerity is not matched by the other clergy who struggle with at least one of the seven deadly sins that the Parson reviews in his lengthy sermon.

The Parson places all men equal under the Lord of Heaven. Wyclif was among the early reformers who “complain that the clergy fail to reprove the rich and influential, but mete out too severe penalties to the poor and obscure" (55). In the sermon itself, the Parson blends what Hudson says is, "a suggestion of Wycliffism that no contemporary reader or listener could have missed," with penance that reflects Catholic orthodoxy (56). This dual sensitivity is similar to Chaucer's own religious makeup, and because Wyclif would not be anathematized until 1415 (The Council of Constance) posthumously, this dualism was quietly and cautiously tolerated during Chaucer's day.

In conclusion, the "Lollardy Parson" puts a last impression on the Canterbury Tales that brings confession to the "Lollardy Chaucer" in his retraction. He says that if there be anything good in this book that thanks belongs to Jesus, and anything that is displeasing should be tallied as ignorance. He says his intention was for instruction, and asks, "that ye preye for me that Crist have mercy / on me, and foryeve me my giltes; and namely, of my translaciouns / and enditynges of worldly vanitees, the whiche I revoke in my / retracciouns" (57).

He hopes that Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints would, "grant me the grace of true penitence, confession, and expiation in this present life; through the benign grace of Him Who is King of kings and Priest over all priests." Chaucer confesses his sin as the pilgrims approach Canterbury, a confession that is to "alle that herkne thai litel tretys or rede" (58).

It is appropriate that this voluntary confession conclude a pilgrimage that had confession amid both conversation and tale. G.K. Chesterton says that that, "the Pilgrim of Chaucer is as genuine as the Pilgrim of Bunyan. He is not in such a hurry because he is not in such a horrible fright; and there is no question of the Franklin or the Squire putting his fingers in his ears and fleeing from London as from a City of Destruction. But he is none the less really fleeing to Canterbury as a City of Salvation" (60). This is the purpose of Chaucer, that though we must waddle through the sins in the pilgrims' conversations and tales, the holy cathedral stands to make amend for every pilgrim that seeks to find salvation.


Canterbury Tales is referenced according to the following Chaucer online resource:

(1) 1:722-726. (2) G.K. Chesterton, for example, in Chaucer (New York: Greenwood Press, 1969) says in effect that Chaucer and Wyclif were similar in their sympathies toward discipline but not toward doctrine; Chaucer never condemns the Catholic Church to the degree of Wyclif (52-55). Muriel Bowden says, "Chaucer never became an avowed Lollard as did some of his friends" (Commentary on the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. New York: MacMillan, 1967, p 9). (3) For example Muriel Bowden who tends to think that this is the reality of the late fourteenth century, that it had old and new in constant contradiction. (4) West, Richard. Chaucer 1340-1400, The Life and Times of the First English Poet. New York: Carroll and Graf, 2000, p 178-79. (5) West, Chapter 9, "Wyclif and the Friars," p 166-186. (6) Aston, Margaret. Lollards and Reformers: Images and Literary in Late Medieval Religion. London: Hambledon Press, 1984, p 57; Hudson, Anne. The Premature Reformation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988, p 294-301. Hudson simply defines Wyclif's view of confession as 1) it should not be mandated and 2) need not be oral (to a priest). (7) As seen in the tales of the Prioress and the Second Nun. (Also, West, p 182.) Though the issue of Mary is not among Wyclif’s main grievances of Rome, the simple point is that Chaucer remained dedicated to the Catholic vision. Note too that pilgrimage being central to the story supports Chaucer as maintaining the Catholic faith. Hudson references the negative views Wyclif had for pilgrimages. Also John A.F. Thomson in The Later Lollards 1414-1520 (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1965. p 28) refers to the Lollard feeling that it was better to give alms to the poor than go on a pilgrimage. (8) 1:745-748. (9) The telling of a tale is even somewhat voluntary, as all the pilgrims agree to the Host’s suggestion before the journey. This would be similar to Wyclif’s view that confession should be voluntary. It is safe to say that the told tales are voluntary, but under the heavy hand of the Host. (10) 1:771-772. (11) 1:708. (12) 1:232. (13) 21:55-59. (14) Brother Anthony of Taize (Sogang University, Seoul, Korea) in "Chaucer and Religion." (First published in a miscellany offered to Professor Lee Gun-sop of Ewha University, Seoul. Published in current form on the Canterbury Tales website.) He states the role of reader as judge and pilgrimage as one that leads to Hell or Heaven, but he does not address the aspect of confession. He asks questions of the reader like, "Will we agree to which tale ought to win?" and, "What are we looking for? Sentence, truth, or entertainment?" I would argue that questions of spirituality and sinfulness, confession and lack of such on this holy path is what should be on our minds as readers. Also look at "'Modernizing' Chaucer" by Donald R. Howard in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Pardoner’s Tale ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1988, p 62. (15) 1:728-731, 733-736. (16) 3:37-40 . (17) The Manciple confronts the drunkenness of the Cook saying to him, "thy visage is ful pale. / Thyne eyen daswen eek, as that me thynketh, / And wel I woot, thy breeth ful soure stynketh. / That sheweth wel thou art nat wel disposed, / Of me, certeyn, thou shalt nat been yglosed" (50:30-34). (18) 32:17. (19) 3:60-61. (20) 5:15-18. (21) 5:63-66. (22) 6:399-401. (23) 28:99-103. (24) 30:562-564. (25) Matthew 19: 8-9. (26) 30: 13-16. (27) 30:686. (28) 38:6, 14-15. (29) 40:9-14. (30) 43:10-11. (31) 43:13, 16-18. (32) 3:9,18. (33) 2:393-407. (34) 2:807-816. (35) 2:2135, 2151-52. Here Jupiter is mentioned as the supreme being. (36) 2:2178. (37) 4:205-207. (38) 4:316-317. (39) 5:4. (40) 4:268. (41) 4:667. Brother Anthony points out, "We probably do not laugh in real life at people getting hurt and badly burned, marriage vows being broken, friendship being abused. What is our laughter expressing, and what moral stance does it support? Is everything okay if we only can laugh?" The Miller eludes God’s privity because he is scared of conclusions that may not offer laughter. (43) 6:400-401. (43) 29:304-305. (44) 29:442-446. (45) 29: 486-487. (46) 31:182-183. (47) 31:374-377. (48) 31:402-403. (49) 31:405-406 . (50) 1:517-530. (51) 12:11. (52) 52:31. (53) 52:49-51. (54) 1:527-528. (55) Bowden, 237. (56) Hudson, 392. She notes the Parson's refusal "to provide a fable, prefers to scatter whete than draf [chaff], and speaks not of Canterbury but 'Of thilke parfit glorious pilgrymage / That highte [is called] Jerusalem celestial.'" She says further, "To an educated Londoner of the 1390s, for whom Chaucer was writing, such language, such satire and unabashed admiration for such ideals must have recalled Wyclif and his followers." Aston (16), Bowden (237-238), and West (182) support similar suggestions. (57) 54:10-13. (58) 54:1-2. (59) G.K. Chesterton.