Multiple Ironies in the Pardoner's Prologue and Tale: Ironyception

Topics: The Canterbury Tales, Roman Catholic Church, The Pardoner's Tale Pages: 3 (1079 words) Published: December 17, 2012
Multiple ironies in The Pardoner's Prologue and Tale: Ironyception
The Pardoner's Prologue and Tale contain numerous ironies and most of them are within each other. Sort of like a dream within a dream, Chaucer weave multiple ironies within the prologue and the tale itself narrated the pardoner to show the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic Church during his time. Both part of the story has multiple level within in them and only through understanding them can the ironies be appreciated. The most important ironies are irony of Pardon's contradiction between what he practice and what he preaches and the riot's actions. These two ironies demonstrated and symbolizes the corruption of the church

One of the easiest irony to spot is the situational ironies in the tale itself. Situational irony is define by dictionary, "an outcome that turns out to very different from what was expected" (Situational Irony). The three rioters who looked for death but instead it was death that found them. This situational irony shows how death is extremely elusive and how it is unconquerable. Humans can never seek out and kill death. This could symbolize fatalism during the middle age. When the three rioters seeks out death, their fate was already determined and no matter how much Death is not something you seek out, it is something that finds you at the most expected moment of your life. The three rioters thought they had their whole life set when they found the treasure, but it was then that death decide to take their lives. Possibly, death found them because they were looking for it in the first place. Nothing good comes out from seeking death and this clearly shows the implications of doing so. There is also an verbal irony during the Pardoner's Tale. When the youngest rioter left to get food, one of the older one said, "Trust me,' the other said, 'you needn't doubt My word. I won't betray you, I'll be true" (Chaucer 254). The one who said this consider the other two as brothers...

Cited: Chaucer, Geoffrey, and Nevill Coghill. The Canterbury Tales. London: Allen Lane, 1977. Print.
"Situational Irony.", n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <>.
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