The Clerk of Oxenford Introduction Edit

The Clerk of Oxenford or The Scholar of oxford is a very scrawny looking man. Despite the Clerk is a student at oxford and he is very wise, he is very poor and doesn't work but uses most of his time with his studies. The Clerk is an anti-social man who doesn't have many friends and doesn't say a lot, Chaucer tells us that the Clerk "never spoke a word more than was needed" and that he would "gladly learn and gladly teach." This says that his personality is reserved but he isn't afraid of speaking his mind when asked.

About the Clerk Edit

The Clerk is a university student who is completely absorbed in philosophy studies. He is a very wise philosophical man who understands things others might not. The Clerk despite being wise is a very poor man he is very anti-social because of his studies. The Clerk spends all his available time absorbed in his studies in the story he is shown to be reading a book on mathematical astronomy which could mean he can also be studying some form of astronomical physics.

Chaucers opinion of The Clerk Edit

Chaucer depicts this character as a thin and impoverished, hard working man who is dedicated to his studies. In the prologue the host sees the Clerk hiding in a corner reading he then describes him to be thin and impoverished. Chaucer likes this character because even though he is poor thin and impoverished he is still dedicated to his studies. When the clerk does have money it is mostly of what he borrows from friends and sends prayers for them in return and then spends the money on his books.

Examining the text Edit

A CLERK from Oxford was there also,

Who’d studied philosophy, long ago,

As lean was his horse as is a rake,

290 And he too was not fat, that I take,

But he looked emaciated, moreover, abstemiously.

Here Chaucer describes the clerk as some one who used to study philosophy and his horse was starved and so was he.

Very worn off was his overcoat; for he

Had got him yet no churchly benefice,

Nor he was worldly to accept secular office.

Here Chaucer says that he didnt have anything to proclaim him as any form of priest or philosopher

295  For he would rather have at his bed’s head

                Some twenty books, all bound in black or red,

                Of Aristotle and his philosophy

                Than rich robes, fiddle, or gay psaltery.

                This describes his passion for philosophy and Aristotle and says that he doesnt want all of the fancy things a rich person would have                               

                Yet, and for all he was philosopher in base,

300   He had but little gold within his suitcase;

                But all that might borrow from a friend

                On books and learning he would swiftly spend,

And then he’d pray diligently for the souls

Of those who gave him resources to attend schools.

This part of the text tells of his money problems saying that he gets money from his friends and in return he prays for them and then spend the money on books

305          He took utmost care and heed for his study

                Not one word spoke he more than was necessary;

                And that was said with due formality and dignity

                And short and lively, and full of high morality.

                Filled with moral virtue was his speech;

310         And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.

Finally he concludes with saying even despite his problems he never speaks out of turn and when he does his words are full of wisdom and morality and that he would gladly pass on knowledge.

Sources Edit

Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Clerk in The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. <>.

"Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-1400) - "The Canterbury Tales", from General Prologue, ll. 287-310." Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-1400) - "The Canterbury Tales", from General Prologue, ll. 287-310. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. <>.

"The Canterbury Tales By Geoffrey Chaucer Summary and Analysis The Clerk's Prologue and Tale." The Clerk's Prologue and Tale. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. <>.

"The Canterbury tales." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. <>.