The Pardoner's Tale

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Geoffrey Chaucer was a well-known writer of the fourteenth century. He lived and wrote in a time when England was in a transformation. Medievalism still was a dominant influence in the lives of Englishmen, but the renaissance had assumed definite form and the country stood on the threshold of the modern world. This century was filled with social, political, literary, and religious ferment. In these times this man of the people began to write The Canterbury Tales. The Canterbury Tales was a fictional writing whose characters represented the times and gave a good cross-section of society. The framing device for the novel was a pilgrimage of 30 travelers who would each tell four tales, for a total of 120 tales. The pilgrimage was to the Shrine of St. Thomas Beckett in Canterbury, England. The story starts in April at the Tabard Inn in England; before the departure Chaucer takes time to give each traveler a physical description, which best reflected his or her personality. One character that stood out to me was The Pardoner. The Pardoner was a church official who had authority from Rome to sell pardons and indulgences to those charged with sins. He had just returned from Rome with a bagful of pardons which he planned to sell to the ignorant at a great profit to himself. He had a loud, high-pitched voice, yellow flowering hair, and was beardless. Chaucer believes he was a "gelding or a mare." But there was no one as good at his profession as this pardoner. He knew how to sing and preach to frighten everyone into buying his pardons at a great price. In The Canterbury Tales The Pardoner explains to the pilgrims his methods used in preaching. " For at my theme is yet, and ever was, 'Radix malorum est cupiditas.' Thus can I preach against that self-same vice Which I indulge, and that is avarice." The Pardoner has a technique to his preaching. He first shows all of his official documents, explains his Latin theme, he shows his relics which include a sheep bone for good luck in preventing diseases in animals and will bring man wealth and cure jealousy; a mitten which will bring more money when the Pardoner receives his money for the relic. The Pardoner announces that he can do nothing for the really bad sinners, but if all the good people will come forward, he will sell them relics which will absolve them from their sins. He acknowledges that many sermons are the result of selfish and evil intentions, and even though he admits that he is guilty of the same sins he is preaching against, he can still make other people repent. The Pardoner's tale takes place in Flanders, where three young men sit in an inn after drinking, gambling, and swearing all night. The three young men hear bells which signify that a coffin was passing the inn. The young men ask the servant to go find out who died. The servant told him that the dead man was stabbed in the back the night before by a sneaky thief called Death. The three rioters thought that Death might still be in the next town, and decided to seek this Death out and slay him. On the way, they meet an extremely old man dressed rather poorly. The three comment on his age and the old man explains that he must wander the earth until he can find someone who will be willing to exchange youth for age. He says that not even Death will take his life. Hearing him speak of Death, the three ask if he knows where they can find Death. The old man told the three that he had last seen Death under a tree at the end of the lane. The three rioters rushed to the tree and find instead eight bushels of gold. They decide to keep the gold for themselves, but are afraid to move it in the daytime. They decide to wait for the night, and they draw straws to see which one will go into town for food and wine to hold them over. The youngest of the three drew the shortest straw and started for town. As soon as he had left, the two decided to kill the youngest and split the money between them. But the youngest decided that he wanted the gold for himself. He went to the druggist and bought poison that kills rats quickly. He bought three bottles of wine and poured poison into two of them. When he returns to the tree, the two immediately stab him and then they sit down and drink all of the wine. Thus ended these homicides. Chaucer does a fine job of choosing this character to tell this tale. The Pardoner is certainly an intellectual figure; his references and knowledge and use of the human psych attest to his intellect. But in his confessions to the pilgrims about his hypocrisy, he seems to be saying that he wished that he could be more sincere in his ways, except that he does love money and power too much. He relates well to his tale; his tale is told to illustrate his preaching methods. The old man perhaps is Death itself, his function in the story is easily seen. He is the instrument by which the three rioters fin Death. And for the Pardoner, a conscious practitioner of hypocrisy, this old man is a good example of hypocrisy in the way he deceived the three rioters. The continuous theme through the Pardoner's prologue, and tale was 'Love of money is the root of all evil.' Chaucer showed a few times that the Pardoner was one of the most corrupt of the churchmen and his hypocrisy showed through more than once.Geoffrey Chaucer was a well-known writer of the fourteenth century. He lived and wrote in a time when England was in a transformation. Medievalism still was a dominant influence in the lives of Englishmen, but the renaissance had assumed definite form and the country stood on the threshold of the modern world. This century was filled with social, political, literary, and religious ferment. In these times this man of the people began to write The Canterbury Tales. The Canterbury Tales was a fictional writing whose characters represented the times and gave a good cross-section of society. The framing device for the novel was a pilgrimage of 30 travelers who would each tell four tales, for a total of 120 tales. The pilgrimage was to the Shrine of St. Thomas Beckett in Canterbury, England. The story starts in April at the Tabard Inn in England; before the departure Chaucer takes time to give each traveler a physical description, which best reflected his or her personality. One character that stood out to me was The Pardoner. The Pardoner was a church official who had authority from Rome to sell pardons and indulgences to those charged with sins. He had just returned from Rome with a bagful of pardons which he planned to sell to the ignorant at a great profit to himself. He had a loud, high-pitched voice, yellow flowering hair, and was beardless. Chaucer believes he was a "gelding or a mare." But there was no one as good at his profession as this pardoner. He knew how to sing and preach to frighten everyone into buying his pardons at a great price. In The Canterbury Tales The Pardoner explains to the pilgrims his methods used in preaching. " For at my theme is yet, and ever was, 'Radix malorum est cupiditas.' Thus can I preach against that self-same vice Which I indulge, and that is avarice." The Pardoner has a technique to his preaching. He first shows all of his official documents, explains his Latin theme, he shows his relics which include a sheep bone for good luck in preventing diseases in animals and will bring man wealth and cure jealousy; a mitten which will bring more money when the Pardoner receives his money for the relic. The Pardoner announces that he can do nothing for the really bad sinners, but if all the good people will come forward, he will sell them relics which will absolve them from their sins. He acknowledges that many sermons are the result of selfish and evil intentions, and even though he admits that he is guilty of the same sins he is preaching against, he can still make other people repent. The Pardoner's tale takes place in Flanders, where three young men sit in an inn after drinking, gambling, and swearing all night. The three young men hear bells which signify that a coffin was passing the inn. The young men ask the servant to go find out who died. The servant told him that the dead man was stabbed in the back the night before by a sneaky thief called Death. The three rioters thought that Death might still be in the next town, and decided to seek this Death out and slay him. On the way, they meet an extremely old man dressed rather poorly. The three comment on his age and the old man explains that he

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