The Character of the Prioress Character is the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person. The Prioress reveals her character in the novel The Canterbury Tales. Twenty-nine men and women of different backgrounds are gathering to tell their stories on their way to the Canterbury Cathedral in spring to morn at the site of Thomas Beckett’s death. In The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer the tale of the Prioress reveals her true character through her moral code, motivation, and desire. As a prioress, the church expects you to be well mannered in public.
This has become part of her moral code as she lives her life. A good example in the story would have to be, “Pleasant and friendly in her ways, and straining/To counterfeit a courtly kind of grace…” (Chaucer 141-142). She wants to live as if she is leading by example and it shows by the manner that she carries herself and what she believes in. Although moral codes can tell a great deal about a person’s character, their motivations also can. Motives can reveal many traits one has. How one was brought up can change their motives, depending on how strict they were brought up.
When motives come in to play it can change how one will act, “At meat her manners were well taught withal;/No morsel from her lips did she let fall,/Nor dipped her fingers in the sauce too deep;/But she could carry a morsel up and keep/The smallest drop from falling on her breast. ”(Chaucer 131-135). In the quote it seems like she wants to do things but is held back because of her motives. Motives and desires go hand-in-hand. The desire of the Prioress is to wear her own attire, as oppose to the traditional attire of the Catholic Church. In this time this could be a very contradicting topic because your appearance is everything.
In the public eye it shows who you are by what you wear,” Her Cloak, I noticed, had a graceful charm. /she wore a coral trinket on her arm,/A set of beads, the faudies tricked in green,/Whence hung a golden brooch of brightest sheen…”. This quote explains how the cloths that she wears is not how her personality is. The contradiction on how one is viewed by how the clothes that they wear is a very interesting topic because the cloths that people wear in this time do not explain their personality. Through the use of moral code, motivation, and desire, Geoffrey Chaucer portrays the character of the Prioress.