Chaucer the Pardoner

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The Pardoner’s Tale is undoubtedly consistent with the character of the Pardoner. First and foremost, the villainy of the Pardoner is displayed through his tale. His greed is also proven by the characters of the tale. In addition to greed, the tale exhibits the gluttony that the Pardoner clearly possesses. Deceit also takes place in the tale, which does not result in success for the main characters, similar to the Pardoner himself. Clearly, the tale also proves how the Pardoner is a liar. One final thing that The Pardoner’s Tale suggests is the homosexuality of the Pardoner. So as the tale progresses, it becomes obvious that the tale of the Pardoner is undoubtedly consistent with his character.

The Pardoner’s Tale displays a sense of evil and villainy that reflects upon the Pardoner’s character. In The Pardoner’s Tale three young men are told by an old man that they will find death under a tree. Instead, they find eight bushels of gold, which they choose to sneak into town. The youngest goes into town to fetch food and drink, but brings back poison, hoping to kill the others and keep the gold for himself. His companions soon kill him, and drink the poison under the tree. Chaucer writes: They fell on him and slew him, two to one. Then said the first of them when this was done, ‘Now for a drink. Sit down and let’s be merry, for later on there’ll be the corpse to bury.’ And, as it happened, reaching for a sup, he took a bottle full of poison up and drank and his companion, nothing loth, drank from it also, and they perished both (256). Bernard F. Huppe also offers an informative discussion regarding the Pardoner. He discusses the type of character the Pardoner proves to be. Huppe states:

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The story reflects its teller. It reflects his great skill, for its power is unmistakable. There is no reason to assume that Chaucer should have expected the pilgrims to have remained unmoved by it—to the triumphant delight of the Pardoner. He comes to his conclusion, and with spectacular effrontery brings his audience back to the realization of his own evil (216). Without a doubt, The Pardoner’s Tale is consistent with the character of the Pardoner, as it further proves how evil the pilgrim truly is.

The Pardoner’s Tale also proves the greed of the Pardoner. The greed of the characters in the tale is displayed, as the three young men secretly plot to eliminate one another, in order to keep the gold. The youngest of the men states, “Lord, to think I might have all that treasure to myself alone! Could there be anyone beneath throne of God so happy as I then should be?” (Chaucer 254). A writer named Donald R. Howard also discusses the irony and greed of the Pardoner. Howard states: We see significance everywhere of which the personages in the story are unaware; and we watch and outcome take shape which is the reverse of what they expect. The situation itself generates irony, and the Pardoner capitalizes on this. When the rioters run to the tree and find almost eight bushels of gold florins, the Pardoner adds “No lenger thanne after Deeth they soughte.” He has one of them say that Fortune has given them the money to life their life “in mirth and jolitee.” Then their greed is turned upon each other—the youngest is knifed by the older two, leaving behind them the poisoned bottles from which his slayers drink in

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celebration. Thus the gold is their death and good Fortune is ill (55). Without a doubt, both Howard and the tale itself prove the enormous greed of the Pardoner, which is undoubtedly shown through the characters of his tale.

Gluttony is also something that proves the tale of the Pardoner to be consistent with his character. In The Pardoner’s Tale the young men spend their time drinking and reveling. The Pardoner accuses them of committing gluttony, similar to the way that he also does. The Pardoner says, “O cursed gluttony, our first...
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