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The Canterbury Tales
Transcript of The Canterbury Tales
red face (representative of his cheerful temperament)
heavy in weight (as a result of overindulgence)
short dagger and silk pouch hanging from belt
The Franklin is described to be guilty of gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins. He is excessively greedy when it comes to eating and drinking. It is noted in the prologue that
"his house was never without baked fish and meat in such a quantity that it snowed food and drink, the choicest that you could imagine"
(7). The Franklin leads a luxurious life filled with fine meals available to him at every hour of the day. Although he fails to realize it, it is evident that he is exceeding the necessary quantity of food. As an affluent man, he faces no shortage of food; however, by overindulging in food and drink, he can be accused of withholding food from the needy.
The Franklin is described to be a friendly man who welcomes all guests to his home with open arms. He is considered to be
"a substantial landowner, St. Julian in his part of the country"
(7). The prologue alludes to St. Julian, the patron saint of hospitality, to show that the Franklin's well-respected position in society requires him to similarly provide generous hospitality to the members of his community. As a result of this responsibility, the Franklin's table remains laid with the finest delicacies and his pantry remains stocked with an assortment of wines at all times.
"Woe to his cook unless the sauce were pungent and sharp and all the equipment in order"
if a guest were to arrive at moment's notice
waxy yellow hair
carries religious relics and pieces
small, goatlike voice
possibly a eunuch
After a sermon preaching against drinking, gluttony, gambling, and swearing, the Pardoner tells of three riotous, young men who go seeking to kill a thief called Death. Upon learning from an old man where he is, they meet Death in the form of eight bushels of gold coins. After plotting to kill one another for financial gain, each man ends up dead due to murder to poison. The Pardoner then uses this tale to warn of greed and to sell fake pardons to his listeners, including the Host.
The Pardoner tells this tale to trick his company into buying his pardons, forcing them to see their own greed and sinful ways. However, it also shows his own hypocrisy, as he is the most greedy of them all and is at fault for everything he preached against.
The deck of cards represents the Pardoner's trickery and deceit. Cards are often used by magicians for magic tricks, fooling their audience to believe the hoax. This is accurate for the Pardoner, because he claims to rid people of their sins while only stealing their money.
The sponge represents the Franklin's gluttony. Sponges are conventionally viewed as household items that are capable of soaking up large amounts of liquid relative to their small size. They are symbolic of the Franklin because he similarly tends to take in more than his fair share of food, drink, and wealth.
Present Day Pilgrim
Today, the Pardoner would be forced to be a street performer in a low social class. A street performer must be good with dealing with groups of people and performing in front of them, which the Pardoner does when telling his sermons. Also, he does not make much money and is not very high in social status, both applying to Chaucer's pardoner pilgrim.
Present Day Pilgrim
Soon after his marriage to Dorigen, Averagus, a courageous knight, leaves for England. During her husband’s absence, Dorigen is approached by Aurelius, who has secretly loved her for years. She jokingly agrees to be with him if he can remove all the rocks from the coast of Brittany. Realizing that the task is impossible, Aurelius hires a magician to create the illusion that all the rocks have disappeared. Upon returning home, Averagus tells his wife she must honor the promise she has made. Aurelius learns of his noble deed and releases Dorigen from her promise. Impressed by Aurelius' honorable act, the magician then consequently also clears him of his debt.
The tale that the Franklin tells reveals the importance of keeping one's word. It conveys the message that all promises, even those made in jest, must be fulfilled. The tale also reveals the Franklin's sense of optimism. The reader expects some type of betrayal to take place, and the happy ending seems slightly unexpected.
If this pilgrimage were taken today, the Franklin would be represented by an individual who symbolizes new money such as Mark Zuckerberg. The Franklin, though not of noble birth, managed to become a wealthy landowner ranked just below the gentry in social order over time. Zuckerberg, a self-made billionaire, similarly was not born into old money and acquired his wealth through his own efforts.
The Pardoner's only purpose is to make money. He swindles and sweet talks with fake relics and false pardons in order to receive real money. He even hypocritically preaches against greed, when he is only trying to coax money out of those around him. Though it is out of avarice, the Pardoner makes a great deal of money working this job; the Host says,
"And with these same relics, when he found a poor parson living out in the country, he made more money in one day than the parson made in two months"
. Ultimately, this selfish man takes advantage of people's religious demands for his own greedy gain.
Talking sweetly is part of the Pardoner's ruse. He sings merrily and loud, drawing attention and appearing to be a cheery fellow who people can trust. Truly, his only goal is to make money, but this lyrical quality is helpful in achieving this goal. It assists him, because
"he could read a lesson or a parable very effectively, but best of all he could sing the offertory; for he knew very well that, when that service was over, he must sweeten his tongue and preach to make money" (14)
. The Pardoner effectively talks his listeners into buying his fake religious items.
The Pardoner is fraudulent and underhanded, deceiving people into buying fake pardons which they believe will save them of their sins. In his quest for money and riches, this swindler becomes a dishonorable worker, basing his job on tricks and hidden secrets, hiding the fact that he is not truly a holy pardon-seller. Instead,
"with feigned flattery and tricks, he made monkeys of the parson and the people"
to satisfy his thirst for fortunes
. The Pardoner's deceitful nature builds the narrator's contempt for the pilgrim, suggesting that Chaucer was not fond of him either. The narrator clearly believes him to be a lying, deceiving con man by the way he sarcastically calls him a
"noble ecclesiastic" (14)
The Franklin is deemed to be a well-respected figure in society. As a freeman, he is no longer bound to the nobility by the feudal system. Considered a man of substance, he is ranked just below the gentry but above the vassals in social order. Because
"he was lord and sire of the sessions and had frequently served as member of parliament from his shire,"
the Franklin is admired by the people of his community and is regarded to be an honorable man (7). His identity as a wealthy landowner guarantees him a well-respected position in society.