Chaucer provides a brief but revealing description of the Oxford Cleric in The Canterbury Tales. The character’s physical appearance suggests that he is a starving student, as his coat is worn and tattered, and he looks thin and emaciated. Even his horse is in poor condition, which indicates that the Cleric struggles to meet even basic needs.
Despite his religious title, the Cleric is not presented as a particularly religious person, and his occupation is not related to religion. Rather, he is depicted as someone who is passionate about his studies and philosophy. This is evident in his lively and insightful speech, which reveals his intellectual background.
The Cleric’s love for learning is further highlighted by his preference for spending money on books rather than food or clothing. This is a common trait among students in Medieval England who often study away from home and are unsupervised, leading to financial difficulties.
The Cleric’s dedication to his studies is admirable, but it also suggests that he is neglecting his own well-being. He appears to be sacrificing his own physical needs for the sake of his intellectual pursuits. This may also indicate that he is from a lower social class and does not have the resources to support himself adequately.
Overall, Chaucer’s portrayal of the Oxford Cleric paints a vivid picture of a student struggling to make ends meet while pursuing his passion for knowledge. Despite his hardships, he remains dedicated to his studies and is an intellectual force to be reckoned with.
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