Transformation- the Pardoners Tale and a Simple Plan

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Comparative Study of Text and Context- Transformation Essay
“A transformation pays homage to the original text and reinvigorates the original ideas and values by creating a text that appeals to a new audience.” For many years, classic tales and texts have been transposed into contemporary forms in order to appeal to new audiences. Representative of this is the transformation of Chaucer’s ‘The Pardoners Tale,’ a poem composed in the 1300’s, arising from a theological society, into the modern film adaption, ‘A Simple Plan,’ appropriated by Sam Raimi to suit a modern audience of a secular society. Due to the contexts of the two texts differing greatly, there have been significant modifications of the original tale in the aspects of societal values, transforming the ideas from religious to secular. Despite this, the theme ‘Radix malorum est Cupiditas’- Greed is the root of all evils, remains universal to both texts. The two texts also explore the motivation behind certain human behaviours and consequences of poor decision making. Composed in fourteenth century England, Chaucer wrote a powerful poem with the intention to outline the corruption within society in that time period and to convey that Christians weren’t living up to expectations. The poem exposes the corruption of Christian values; successfully achieved through the use of the hypocritical pardoner who delivers an allegorical sermon, preaching about the evils of sins of which he admits to immersing himself in. This can be contrasted with the twentieth century film adaption, ‘A Simple Plan,’ set in the 1990’s of America, during the time of the depression of the farming sector. Raimi transformed the film with the intention of showing the corruption of the American Dream. The tagline, ‘Sometimes good people do evil things,’ effectively conveys his purpose; to outline the evils generated from greed. The Pardoners Tale follows the escapades of three naïve rioters on their quest to slay ‘Death,’ which unknowingly results in their own deaths. The tale is narrated by the corrupt character of the pardoner, whom preaches against avarice, a vice which he is guilty of himself. Intent with convincing his audience to buy false relics in exchange for pardons of their sins, he proclaims he cares nothing of their corrections, but is merely interested in the profit. The tale is conveyed effectively through the use of rhyming couplets, combined with rich descriptive language and metaphoric speech. ‘Elegantly shaped and slim, and girls selling fruits, Singers with harps, bawds and girls selling wafers.’ The repetition of the s creates smooth, soft sounds which develops a pleasant visual image; advertising their actions with great appeal. The use of different language techniques introduce power and meaning to Chaucer’s poetry. In the prologue, the reader is given insight into the irony of the pardoner himself in the passage from 423-434, where he familiarises his audience with his theme, contradicting this with his sole intention. “I preche of no thyng but for coveityse. Therefore my theme is yet and evere was, Radix malorum est Cupiditas.” His confession that he preaches for nothing but greed develops irony within the pardoner’s character and his hypocrisy is exemplified as he goes on to say that he preaches against avarice, the vice of which he is guilty of himself. A Simple Plan pays homage to the original tale, taking the integral elements and reviving the original tale, shaping it to entertain a modern audience....
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