Canterbury Tales: the Pardoner

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Throughout literature, relationships can often be found between the author of a story and

the story that he writes, whether intentional or not. In Geoffrey Chaucer's story,

Canterbury Tales, many of the characters on the pilgrimage make this statement evident

with the tales that they tell. Such a distinct relationship can be made between the

character of the Pardoner and the tale that he tells.

Through the Prologue to the Pardoner's tale, the character of the Pardoner is

revealed. Although the Pardoner displays many important traits, the most prevalent is his

greed. Throughout the prologue, the Pardoner displays his greed and even admits that the

only thing he cares about is money: "I preach nothing except for gain" ("Pardoner's Tale",

Line 105). This avarice is seen strongly in the Pardoner's tale as well. In the Pardoner's

tale, three friends begin a journey in order to murder Death. On their journey, though, an

old man leads them to a great deal of treasure. At this point, all three of the friends in the

tale display a greed similar to the Pardoner's. The three friends decide that someone

should bring bread and wine for a celebration. As the youngest of the friends leaves to go

buy wine, the other two greedily plot to kill him so they can split the treasure only two

ways. Even the youngest decides to "put it in his mind to buy poison / With which he

might kill his two companions" (383, 384). The greed, which is evident in the character

of the Pardoner, is also clearly seen in the tale.

Another trait that is displayed by the Pardoner and a character in his tale is

hypocrisy. Although the Pardoner is extremely greedy, he continues to try and teach that

"Avarice is the root of all evil" (6). He explains to the pilgrims how money is the root of

all evil, and then he takes the money from them in exchange for forgiveness of their sins.

This action could be seen in two ways. Perhaps the...
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