Irony In The Pardoner's Tale Essay

Topics: Macbeth, William Shakespeare, Duncan I of Scotland, Tragedy, Tragic hero, KILL / Pages: 2 (447 words) / Published: Oct 20th, 2017
Chaucer uses large amounts of situational irony in his classic short story, The Pardoner's Tale. We see this in the way he manipulates the actions of the characters so that the results of their efforts in the story are the opposite of their intentions. The three knaves, for example, began with the hope of accomplishing something heroic. Upon seeing an old comrade slain by death, they leapt into action. (Chaucer 68-69) Without a second thought they took up a quest to seek retribution for their fallen comrade. They seem noble at first, if we ignore the fact that they are intoxicated.(38) However, their good intentions don't last long. As soon as they find the gold, they abandon their mission to pursue personal wealth.(141-144) Their morals descend even further when they conspire to kill each other.(194-202) In the end, they all die as murderers, traitors, and attempted thieves. This is a clear example of irony, in that the characters' actions result in the the opposite of when they originally intended. Initially, the …show more content…
Upon first setting out, they pledge an oath of loyalty. Their exact oath, "to live and die, each of them for the other"(77) is hinting at what will happen in the story later on. Although they meant it to be a promise of brotherhood, it is more of an omen of the treachery to come. Only a few hours after making the pledge, they cruelly murder each other in an attempt to gain a larger portion of their stolen gold.(249-256) This too is situationally ironic, in that their plan to die for each other results in the opposite; they die because of each other. These uses of irony in The Pardoner's Tale provides an additional level of entertainment as the characters move through the plot. With our wider perspective as readers, we can see the connections from the opening of the story to its grisly ending. Chaucer's mastery of situational irony is truly incredible to

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