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The Pardoner's Tale
Transcript of The Pardoner's Tale
Be primed to meet him everywhere you go,
That’s what my mother said. It’s all I know (250).” In the beginning of his tale, the Pardoner preaches against...
excess, greediness, gluttony
This sermon outlines the topics he is going to touch upon in his actual tale that is to follow. After he finishes telling his tale, the Pardoner starts to preach one of his sermons and attempt to sell his relics to the pilgrims. This only adds to the irony of his character because in his prologue, he addresses the fact that his relics do not work and he does not pardon sins. He also mentions that he does it all for money and does not care what happens to the people whose sins he pardons and who purchase his relics. This sudden change in mood may be due to the alcohol he has consumed, his greediness, or him wanting to show what he does and the sins he commits. "For my exclusive purpose is to win
And not at all to castigate their sin.
Once dead what matter how their souls may fare?
They can go blackberrying, for all I care (243)!" about the tale setting:
a tavern and the surrounding area Radix malorum est cupiditas
*greed is the root of evil* characters:
three drunk men
other men in the tavern
an old man
a chemist Exemplum - An anecdote that is used to tell a moral truth, as in a medieval sermon. Another way Chaucer uses irony in the tale is that the three men set out to kill Death, but end up being killed by Death instead. Death is used as Chaucer not as an action or state of being, but instead as a person. Death also appears in the form of the gold florins that the men find, with the old man's guidance. Three men were sitting in a tavern, drinking, when they see a funeral procession passing by. They find out that the man in the casket was killed the night before by a fiend named Death. They discover that Death has killed thousands of people everywhere. Enraged by this news, the three men set off to kill Death. On their quest to kill Death, the three young men encounter an old man. The proudest of the drunks mocks the man, asking why he has died yet. The man responds by saying that he wants to die, but cannot. He reprimands them for their rudeness. The three ask where they can find Death, and the old man responds by saying that he last saw him by a nearby tree. "....'What, old fool?
Why are you all wrapped up except your face?
Why live so long? Isn't it time to die?'
The old, old fellow looked him in
And said, 'Because I never yet have found,
Though I have walked to India, searching round
Village and city on my pilgrimage,
One who would change his youth to have my age.
And so my age is mine and must be still
Upon me, for such time as God may will (251).'" The three men go to the tree and see a pile of gold florins underneath it. Overtaken by greed, they plan to wait until dark and bring the gold back to one of their houses (so they do not look like thieves). One of the men is sent to the town to get bread and wine to tide them over while they wait until night. "At once the three young rioters began
To run, and reached the tree, and there they found
A pile of golden florins on the ground,
New-coined, eight bushels of them as they thought.
No longer was it Death those fellows sought,
For they were all so thrilled to see the sight,
The Florins were so beautiful and bright,
That down they sat beside the precious pile (252-253)." Chaucer uses irony in this tale because despite the fact that the Pardoner preaches against all of the traits demonstrated by the three men, he himself exemplifies these traits during the pilgrimage and during his everyday life and work. What the Pardoner and his tale says about society The Catholic Church is not as corrupt as it was during Chaucher's time. However, there are still figures today like the Pardoner who preach one thing and act the complete opposite. r.i.p Greed gets the best of the remaining two men, and they plot to ambush and kill the third man when he returns with the bread and wine, so they can split the pile of gold into two instead of three and get more money. Meanwhile, the third man, also driven by greed, purchases rat poison from a chemist, with the intention of poisoning the two men he left behind in order to take all of the gold for himself. He puts the poison in two bottles, disguising it as wine. "Sell me some poison if you will,
I have a lot of rats I want to kill
And there's a polecat too about my yard
That takes my chickens and it hits me hard;
But I'll get even, as is only right
With vermin that destroy a man by night (255)." fun fact!
JK Rowling partially based her "Tale of the Three Brothers" on the Pardoner's Tale The third returns to the tree, and is immediately slaughtered by the two men. The two, pleased that their plan worked the way they anticipated, celebrate their success and new-found wealth by drinking the wine that their murdered comrade had brought. They shared one of the bottles. Unfortunately for them, they picked up one of the poisoned ones. They both die under the tree. "There it is, in Avicenna's long relation
Concerning poison and its operation,
Trust me, no ghastlier section to transcend
What these two wretches suffered at their end.
Thus these two murderers received their due,
So did the treacherous young poisoner too (256)." "O cursed sin! O blackguardly excess!
O treacherous homicide! O wickedness!
O gluttony that lusted on and diced!
O blasphemy that took the name of Christ
With habit-hardened oaths that pride began!
Alas, how comes it that a mortal man,
That thou to thy Creator, Him that wrought thee,
That paid his precious blood for thee and bought thee,
Art so unnatural and false within (256)." The Pardoner's Tale Today Greed is also still present today. Many people and public figures will do anything to get and keep money, just like the three men in the tale (although murder is not usually the solution used). Greed is also shown today through the mentality that you need to have the newest and best things. themes:
death The Pardoner's greed and selling of relics illustrates the corruption of the Catholic church during this time period.
The need for a pardoner shows that society during this time was very sinful (especially of the sins the Pardoner addresses during his tale) and was in need of someone to listen to their sins and pardon them. This need also shows that people were afraid of death; more specifically what would happen after death. His sale of religious relics to cure illnesses and other maladies also shows that people during this time were more willing to put their faith into objects than prayers. This could imply that the people of this time were not very religious. His tale shows that people were very sinful, and were not too concerned about this. They also frequented taverns often, and were drunkards. The lack of women in this tale could imply that women did not frequent taverns and generally stayed at home. It could also imply that men were more sinful and in need of a pardoner than women. The treatment of the old man by the young men also shows that elders were not respected. "One thing I should have mentioned in my tale, Dear people. I’ve some relics in my bale
And pardons too, as full and fine, I hope,
As any in England, given me by the Pope.
If there be one among you that is willing
To have my absolution for a shilling
Devoutly given, come! and do not harden
Your hearts but kneel in humbleness for pardon; Or else, receive my pardon as we go.
You can renew it every town or so
Always provided that you still renew
Each time, and in good money, what is due.
It is an honor to you to have found
A pardoner with his credentials sound
Who can absolve you as you ply the spur
In any accident that may occur (257)."
In this tale, Death is personified by Chaucer. Instead of being an action, it is instead a person - a murderer who has killed entire towns of people. The man in the beginning was not killed by his drunkenness, but instead Death came to him in the middle of the night and murdered him. During Chaucer's time period, the Black Plague was in its prime. The plague had killed thousands of people. In this tale, it is not the plague that kills them, but Death. The three men going to kill Death symbolizes a fear of death and dying.