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Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales: The Pardoner

By sroff97 Nov 19, 2013 341 Words

In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, the pilgrims on their journey rarely do their jobs correctly. Only three of the pilgrims, the Knight, the Parson, and the Plowman, do what they are supposed to do. The rest of the pilgrims vary from slightly bad to morally apprehensible. The Pardoner, a pilgrim from the Ecclesiastical group, falls under the latter category.

Chaucer uses each pilgrims appearance to symbolize their personal qualities. The Pardoner, as one of the morally apprehensible pilgrims, is rather ugly, shown by the lines "And he had a bulging eye, like a hare" (ll. 671). He wore a small cap on his head with a holy relic sewed onto it. It is implied that the Pardoner is unable to grow a beard by the lines "His chin no beard had harbored, nor would harbor, / Smoother than ever chin left by barber" (ll. 676-677).

The Pardoner's motivation is greed. His job is to accept money on the behalf of the church and in return grant pardons, a common practice in the Middle Ages. Usually, the Pardoner would do everything he could to sell his pardons; The Pardoner's Tale is just an elaborate plan to convince the other pilgrims to buy pardons.

The Pardoner has very hypocritical behavior. In The Pardoner's Tale, he preaches against the sin of greed, and yet the story was just an attempt for him to make more money. The Pardoner also spends most of his time with the Summoner, the most morally degraded pilgrim on the journey. He has a love for religious relics, but it is implied that these are fakes by the line "For in his trunk he had a pillowcase, / Which he asserted was Our Lady's veil" (ll. 680-681). It can be assumed that he uses these artifacts as a way to lure in potential customers.

Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales shows the Pardoner to be a greedy man who abuses his position within the church. He uses anything at his expense to make a quick buck, and associates himself with other morally apprehensible people.

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