Earthly Desires and Ambition in Chaucer's Pardoner

Topics: Seven deadly sins, The Canterbury Tales, Lust Pages: 3 (852 words) Published: December 4, 2010
There are seven deadly sins that, once committed, diminish the prospect of eternal life and happiness in heaven. They are referred to as deadly because each sin is closely linked to another, leading to other greater sins.  The seven deadly sins are pride, envy, anger, sloth, gluttony, avarice, and lechery. Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, provided an excellent story about the deadly sins. Focusing mainly on the sins of pride, gluttony and greed, the characters we find in The Canterbury Tales, particularly “The Pardoner's Tale,” are so overwhelmed by their earthly desires and ambitions that they fail to see the effects of their sinful actions, therefore depriving themselves of salvation. For example, gluttony is defined as the desire over-indulgence of food and drink. The pardoner says that gluttony is the sin that has corrupted the world. The first form of gluttony is drunkenness. Drunkenness is sinful humanity loses its ability to reason. The three men are guilty of gluttony when they overindulge in wine at the tavern that eventually led to swearing and lechery.  The pardoner claimed that drunkenness played a big role when Lot committed incest with two of his daughters. Drunkenness had influenced Herod's decision when he ordered John, the Baptist beheaded. Gluttony was unknowingly committed in these two examples leading to incest and murder. The pardoner, however, does not practice what he preaches. He cannot proceed with his exemplum until he had something to drink.

The pardoner is an ambitious and proud man. While others are not as educated as he is, the pardoner spoke in Latin to show off his linguistic ability. His failure to practice what he preaches makes him a model of hypocrisy and deceit. The pardoner is such a braggart that he boasts of the sins that he had done. "I spit out my venom under hue / Of holiness, to seem holy and true"(Prologue 421-422). The pardoner admitted to his astonishing behavior and confessed to his...
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