Summary of Tale• Three drunken and debauched men set out from a pub to find and kill Death, whom they blame for the death of their friend, and all other people that previously have died. An old man they brusquely query tells them they can find death at the foot of a tree. When the men arrive at the tree, they find a large amount of gold coins and forget about their quest to kill Death. They decide that they cannot just take the coins in broad daylight, but rather wait until night and steal the money then. The three men draw straws to see who among them should fetch wine and food while the other two wait under the tree. The youngest of the three men drew the shortest straw. The two men who stay behind secretly plot to kill the other one when he returns, while the one who leaves for the town poisons some of the wine with rat poison. When he returns with the food and drink, the other two kill him and drink the poisoned wine — also dying (and finding Death, as per the old mans directions) as a result.
The Pardoner• He is clearly a complex man as revealed in the prologue to his tale. He finds it easy to sermonize to the other Pilgrims emphasizing his text that the love of money is the root of all evil, and gives advice as to how people should live their lives in order to avoid sin. At the same time he confesses that he readily succumbs to temptation and likes to indulge himself with rich food and fine living. The money he obtains to support his lifestyle comes from the sale of relics which are mainly purchased by bad sinners.[He is guilty of the same vice he preaches in his tales]
Pardoner continue...• Again Chaucer takes the opportunity to highlight the hypocrisy of the Medieval Church through the portrayal of the Pardoner. The old cliché of “practice what you preach”, for which the Pardoner does not do. The Pardoner sells pardons and relics to sinners by the authority of the Pope, in which these relics are in fact false; just stones and bones found by the Pardoner. The Pardoner’s work is based on deceit, selling relics to the unwary. The Pardoner’s intentions are simply “for to wynne” (to profit), and “nothyng for correccioun of synne” (and nothing to do with the correction of sin)
Social & Historical Context• The Church created Pardoner’s to gather money from sinners in return for absolution (forgiveness), which established a great and wealthy source of income for the Church, but also the corruption of the system which came with it. For Pardoner’s were often seen as confident tricksters. Some people often saw this as an abuse of power by the Church, who we’re wealthy and left huge populations of Europe in poverty.
• The Pardoner is portrayed as deeply corrupt, greedy, and abusive. A pardoner in Chaucers day was a person to whom one paid treat/money in exchange for forgiveness of sins. Pardoners would exact a fee for their services and in many cases were guilty of using these fees for their own gain. Chaucers Pardoner openly admits the corruption of his practice while hawking his wares.
Pilgrimage• The idea of demonstrating religious devotion by making a journey to a holy shrine or site.• It was a core part of Catholic practices.• These pilgrimages of The Canterbury’s Tales are making a pilgrimage to the martyr St Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.
• Sermons always contained a tale or some issue based on MORALS: a lesson or message conveyed to be learnt from a story or event.
Language & Structure• Confession: The Pardoner uses the prologue to confess, yet, he shows no sense of guilt or shame for what he does: selling fake relics and pardoner to gain money for his own self. In which he extracts money from his congregations for a comfortable life and doesn’t express and need to repent.• Lines 43 – 136: The Pardoner describes in a boastful way how well he “performs” as a preacher. He quotes things he says to his congregation to encourage the devout to come up and give him money. This is the first confession: the techniques he uses to achieve his deceptions.• Lines 137 – 176: Here concludes the Pardoner’s second confession: that everything he does is for his own gain. He explains the dark depths on his greed: “I wol have moneie, wolle, chese, and whete,/ …Nay, I wol drynke licour of the vyne,/ And have a joly wenche in every toun.” Yet he then ‘redeems’ the moment by reminding the pilgrims of his skill as a public preacher – “For though myself be a ful vicious man,/ A moral tale yet I yow telle kan”.
Language & Structure• Through the tale the Pardoner gives effectively lengthy sermons on the nature of the sins he says they habitually commit, demonstrating his skills in sermonising (a religious practice). He uses rhetorical techniques, demonstrating personal passion and enthusiasm, balancing with biblical references and allusions. PRIDE colours his delivery, making him keen to show just how effective he is at preaching to deceive.
Imagery... Most vivid earthy image is used to convey the grossness and corruption of gluttony: passage 238 – 260. He describes the actions of eating to seem revolting:Whan man so drynketh of the white and rede/ That of his throte he maketh his pryvee/ Thurgh thilke cursed superfluitee” Therefore creating the drunken man’s throat into a privy (toilet), in which his “bely” is “Fulfilled of donge and of corrupcioun”, which is a gross and vulgar depiction of the excess of drinking and eating. The Pardoner continues with the repulsive image, explaining how cooks are inflicted into coarse labour through verbs such as “stampe”, “streyne” and “grynde”, in which they “Out of the harde bones knokke they/ The mary, for they caste noght awey” to make this glutton sauce.
Imagery...• Another vivid imagery used effectively is to show the behaviour of sinners, through gambling, in which they commit blasphemy and an aggressive stance. In the lecture against “hasardrye” (gambling) the Pardoner conjures frantic gamblers blaspheming, “By Goddes precious herte” and “by his nayles”. In their fury they warn the imaginary opponent that if they attempt to cheat “this daggere shal throughout thyn herte go!”Here the Pardoner is creating a frantic and aggressive setting and voice, showing the evils of gambling and how it can lead to brutal conflicts.
Allusions • During Chaucer’s time, using allusions (references to stories or in this case the Bible) would have displayed intelligent through wider reading, making them appear educated, for a very small proportion would have done such, which makes the person seem more superior and knowing.Pardoner uses allusion for DRUNKENESS “Lo, how the droken Looth, unkyndely/ Sin of drunkenness lead to himLot & Herod Lay by hise doghtres two, unwityngly;/ sleeping with his daughter whilst drunk,(Looth & Herodes) So dronke he was, he nyste what he committed by the daughters wroghte” themselves to continue the family line. This story has been twisted by the Pardoner, “Herodes, whose wel the stories for the Pardoner states that Herod whilst soghte,/ WHan he of wyn was replete drunk ordered John the Baptist’s death, when at his feeste,/ Right at his owene table really what happened was that Herod’s he yaf his heeste/ To sleen the Baptist daughter asked for him to kill John, in which John, ful giltelees.” Herod thought that the opinions of people were more important than the words of God. So, Herod ordered Johns death.Attila & Samuel/ “Lamuel” “Looke, Attilla, the grete conquerour,/ Deyde in his sleepe, with shame and States that Attila because of a nose dishonour,/ Bledynge ay at his nose in bleed due to heavy drinking. (actually dronkenesse.” …”What was comaunded unto Lamwel,/ Nat Samuel, true). but Lamwel, seye I”
AllusionsThe Pardoner uses allusions for “Corrupt was al this world for The Pardoner states thatGLUTTONY glotonye!/ Adam oure fader, Adam & Eve were thrown outAdam & Eve and his wyf also,/ Fro Paradys of Paradise for their gluttony, for that vice” yet it was the sin of temptation and pleasures of the flesh which caused this.The Pardoner uses allusions to demonstrateon: “The heighe God forbad Matthew 5:34 of the Gospel ofSWEARING/BLASPHEMY sweryng at al,/ Witnesse on Matthew states that “But I say Mathew; but in special/ Of unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s sweryng seith the hooly throne”. Jeremye./ Thou shalt seye Yet the Pardoner also states that sooth thyne othes, and nat “Lo, rather he forbedeth swich lye,/ And swere in doom, and sweryng/ Than homicide, or any eek in rightwisnesse;” cursed thing” stating that swearing is worse the murder, which is not true and is another evidence of the Pardoner abusing his powers and knowledge.
The Pardoner uses many allusions to support his opinions of sinning, and allusions were a key part of sermon, therefore the pilgrims would conclude that what the Pardoner is saying was right. However, a minority was educated whilst the majority of the poor were uneducated and illiterate, only scholars, priests and such read the Bible. Deception afoot, for the Pardoner twists and uses references to fit to his sermon, and therefore in twisting some, he may be attempt to present new references to show off to the congregations.
Rhetoric• Rhetoric is the art of writing or speaking persuasively. The Pardoner demonstrates this effectively thought his Prologue and the Tale. We witness great passion and energy in his language, for example during the remarks on Gluttony, the Pardoner exclaims “cursednesse”, “confusioun” and “dampnacioun”, which all contain explanation marks at the end.• The uses of powerful imagery and allusions also continue to present the Pardoner as a brilliant persuasive speaker/orator.• Even when the Pardoner confesses he shows such confidence and stridency, which convey the powerful express of his greed.
Rhetoric• Moreover, the fact that the Pardoner also speaks directly to his audience presents him to be effective. He shows his audience, in which we can imagine, for example, when he is confessing about the fake relics, he presenting to the audience bones adding content and imagery. He draws his audience in, bringing them to listen closely to his tale, “But, sires, now wol I telle forth my tale”.• Finally the Pardoner continues to bring his audience in and makes them think using a rhetorical question at the end of his Tale – “What nedeth it to sermon of it moore?” (All these engage the audience and readers to give drive and energy to the Pardoner’s Tale)
Macabre is a quality of certain artistic or literary works, characterized by a grim or ghastly atmosphere. In these works, there is an emphasis on the details and symbols of death. • Chaucer is a gothic author, for this tale contain elements of macabre; with its repellent descriptions of the destructive effects of committing sins, the Pardoner’s macabre trade in bones and relics and the mysterious and dark figure of the old man, who contains a supernatural quality.
Macabre• Supernatural: stalked by Death, in the Old Man: personified as Death? Death himself? Agent of Death?• Funeral at the beginning sets the mood of something dark and gothic• Violent and sudden end of the three young folk, due to their wickedness & corruption• Breaking religious codes, which to Christians would have been a serious and dark thing to do• The breaking of conventional moral and/or ethic codes
Social & Historical Context• The term “gothic” means (amongst others) inspiration by arts or images from the Middle ages. Chaucer did not see his world as gothic, like audience see now. These elements were a part of everyday world & culture, as people from the Middle Ages believed much in the supernatural and the connotations that came with them. i.e. Good & Evil, Black & White.
Deception• This is the main and biggest theme presented in the Tale and the Pardoner himself• The Pardoner’s life is based on deceiving people into parting with their money. Yet the Pardoner explains this in his confession to the Pilgrims, which may be an attempt to become honesty.• However at the end of his tale he attempts to sell his fake relics and pardons, which could show that he is so unaware of his deception and has also deceived himself.
Deception• There is three strands of deception in the Tale:• 1) The three young rioters deceives themselves into believing they can kill the thief Death• 2) Deceived by the Old Man into going to where the gold waits them. Either because the old man is Death or a supernatural agent• 3) They bring about their own Death by two acts of deception against each otherDeception was a powerful theme for readers in Chaucer’s time (Social &Historical Context). Due to the far less laws in the Middles Ages and beingcheated by people was a constant fear.Most people believed that the Devil was present in the world and was ableto change his appear to do his trickery. If you neglected prayer then theDevil could deceive you into a trap.Superstitions of people lead to suggestions into witchcraft
Corruption• Strong sense of physical corruption, decay and disfigurement. i.e. “O dronke man, disfigured is thy face” and the poorest wife in the village whose “children sterve for famine” showing decay.• Sins such as drunkenness and gluttony resulted into disfigurement.• Physical decay of the relics and bones reflect the Pardoner’s moral & spiritual corruption.• Nowhere in the tale or what the Pardoner says conjured light or innocent, enhancing the imagery of darkness and macabre = corruption.
Gluttony• Committing any sin of over indulgences (the excess of eating and drinking) and drunkenness, went against the Church and was not seen as obedience to its ruling.• The Pardoner shows so much hate for the sin of Gluttony, despite committing them: “Corrupt was al this world for glotonye” and “O, glotonye, full of crusednesse”
Abuse of Power & Avarice• Greed is one of the third deadly sin explored by the Pardoner. Which is the one the Pardoner spends his whole life committing.• RADIX MALORUM EST CUPIDITAS: the love of money is the root of all evil – is the Pardoner preaching.• The Pardoner abuses his powers by deceiving the trust of people, when giving fake relics and pardons to gain money for himself. This reflects the Church also, for in creating Pardoners they we able to have a great source of income, and despite this wealth left majority of Europe poor.
Death• Death is the supernatural horror personified in the Old Man and the “thief” who takes the lives of young people (which is metaphoric).• ‘The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ out Lord’, this would have been is a phrase understood by Chaucer’s audience