The Medieval Concept of "Evil"

Featuring: "The Canterbury Tales" by Chaucer

After the Anglo-Saxon Period...

...human reasoning led people to believe that there was no such thing as evil incarnates in the form of a monster, such as Beowulf's Grendel, but rather that evil existed alongside good within humans themselves.

The Seven Deadly Sins

There are many examples of evil shown throughout the morals and actions within The Canterbury Tales. One easy way to associate such subtle concepts is through something more well known: The seven deadly sins. Below are three examples that display a few of these evils.

Chaucer's Pilgrims: Examples of Evil

There are some pilgrims specifically seen throughout the tales that have simply evil motives, such as those listed below.

The Pardoner

Selfish and Greedy, the pardoner complains about the sins of the world; all the while committing such deeds himself. An example of such an action is that he tried to convince other pilgrims to buy false pardons (for the sake of making money, of course).

The Friar

Very selfish and immoral, he often seduces young women before marrying them off. He cares more about his personal gain than the people that he should be taking care of.

The Miller

He comes off as a very rude, rowdy individual. He undeniably ridicules other pilgrims throughout the journey.

The Physician

The physician is very fond of the money he makes, often falsely prescribing medicine to his patients in order to gain wealth.

In Conclusion

It is obvious to see the faces of evil displayed throughout The Canterbury Tales. Although much more subtle than the grotesque monsters of times before the Medieval period, these newly introduced concepts made much more sense, and were a step towards where our beliefs settle today.
Disclaimer: Please see the Resources page of this site to find the sources used for this flyer, as well as the other pages on this site.