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Greed And Anti-Fraternalism In Chaucer's "Summoner's Tale"

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Chapter Summary

The clerics' ability to perform confession or preach has a specific economic exchange value in that it can be converted into cash. The suffragis or meritis" in this economy, which clerics sell with fayned wordis," in fact have no cash value in and of themselves, though clerics deceive you into thinking so. This critique, which as we will see also appears in Chaucer's Summoner's Tale," makes language the keystone of an anti-clerical argument: clerical avarice is the conjoined twin of linguistic hollowness. The fart which Thomas donates to the grasping friar in the Summoner's Tale" makes for wonderful comedy. It is not just explosive humor, however, but also an explosive semiotic event. The reference touches one of the most sensitive areas of anti-fraternal criticism. Poverty was to be the mark of the Franciscan apostolic mission, not learning.

Keywords: anti-fraternalism; franciscan apostolic mission; poverty

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