English II Honors
12 December 2011
The Root of all Evil
In the satirical poem, The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer narrates a fictional pilgrimage from London to Canterbury including characters that display all segments of Medieval England. Chaucer accomplishes this through the use of frame narrative. One tale used to portray a character in the poem is “The Pardoner’s Tale.” The Pardoner is a man of the church who sells indulgences to people of sin in the Catholic faith. In “The Pardoner’s Prologue” the Pardoner explains his ruse to his fellow pilgrims then proceeds to the tale in which he tells a story proclaiming that greed is the root of all evil. Ironically, the Pardoner himself is an immensely greedy and selfish man specializing in preying on the fears of God in people and selling them indulgences. Subsequently, the Pardoner already explains his swindle earlier in the prologue. The moral message that Chaucer is trying to convey in “The Pardoner’s Tale” is that greed can corrupt anyone to do evil and malicious things. Chaucer achieves this through the character of the Pardoner, for he boasts of his corrupt practices, proclaims hypocritical stories, and preys on the guilt and ignorance of humanity.
In “The Pardoner’s Prologue” the Pardoner explains his job as a pardoner of the church and boasts about his ulterior and selfish motives to make more money. Chaucer portrays in the prologue that even greed can corrupt a holy man of the Catholic Church. When the Pardoner is boasting of his ruse he exclaims, “For my exclusive purpose is to win/ And not at all to castigate their sin” (243). The irony lies within the Pardoner how greed as corrupted the Catholic Church. The entire significance of a pardoner is to take away the sins of others through the sale of indulgences. However, the Pardoner openly states that his only motive is to make money and not take away sin. The Pardoner also demonstrates irony when he exclaims, “And thus I...