Mar. 13th: The Pardoner

What can be interpreted from the Pardoner’s ability to tell an effective moral tale while himself being guilty of the sins he condemns? How do you believe we are supposed to interpret the Pardoner’s offer (904) of salvation in return for money or precious items?

6 thoughts on “Mar. 13th: The Pardoner

  1. It is very clear through the language here that the Pardoner is meant to be understood as a very hypocritical character, taking pleasure in the sins he outlines as bad within his prologue. While he discourages gambl-ing and considers it evil and a waste of time and money, he explains how he himself rips people off by offering them relics that are shams, shortly before asking those along the pilgrimage to pay him in order to be pardoned. Clearly he is a sham, and everyone along the pilgrimage understands him as such. It is interesting that he mentions insanity, as he himself must be insane to believe he can get money from these people he just shared his stories with.

  2. What I found interesting in the Pardoner’s Tale is that the other pilgrim’s reaction to the Pardoner’s sales pitch at the end. They know for a fact, as Keleigh said, that his relics are shams and that he suddenly turns his moral tale around with a ‘unbockle thy purse’ (945). The Host gets angry and they almost get into a fight which is stopped only because the Knight calms everyone down. I think that, to the traveler’s, the Pardoner’s moral tale is completely undone because of his hypocrisy and I think Chaucer points this out the most by the reaction of the Host. The Host wants to cut off the Pardoner’s ‘coillons’ for his sales pitch which is a very strong threat to make (952). What that leaves us with though is a morality tale whose moral most people can agree on, but that no one, even the teller, actually wants to commit to.

  3. I agree with Keleigh that the Pardoner is a clearly hypocritical character, actively committing the sins he so strongly preaches against. What is interesting about his tale is that it seems to be a sales pitch for his offers of salvation at the end. The violence of the three men’s deaths in the tale coupled with the Pardoner’s detailed descriptions of the evils of dice-playing, cursing, and drinking have a purpose of scaring his audience. The fear the he drives into them about the fate of their soul is used to make them desperate enough to fall for his trickery. He promises them absolution from their sins, a blatantly false promise that is noted by the audience, as Regan pointed out.

  4. I couldn’t help but see a thinly veiled criticism of the intersection of faith and commerce. A pardoner, as opposed to other members of the clergy, is employed specifically to collect funds for the Church. It seems to me that Chaucer has positioned the pardoner so that he can be torn down as an illegitimate authority figure – one who preaches against the evils of avarice, while simultaneously engaging in that evil on behalf of the Church. The host’s threat to castrate the pardoner represents an affront to his masculinity as well as his authority as a member of the Church. It seems as though Chaucer is honing in on the questionable practice of paying for salvation, questioning whether there should be some manner of financial “gatekeeper” between man and God.

  5. The Pardoner is fairly upfront about the fact that he preaches for money, which is in direct competition with beliefs preached by Jesus in the New Testament. His job is to collect money for the church and yet he preaches against greed. He also starts by condemning gluttony directly after his Prologue, where he requested food and drink before he would give his tale. I think Chaucer is implying that the Church has conflicting beliefs. They ask for people’s money and yet it isn’t money that will help a person get to heaven. Everything about the tale seems hypocritical and it makes readers think about the motivations of those who are preaching. In the case of the Pardoner, his motivation is money not true faith, which makes all the difference. He doesn’t seem to follow the words he preaches.

  6. Several morals are called to question and challenged by the Pardoner. Of all the dilemmas that are presented throughout the story, the biggest one appears to be within the three greedy gentlemen in pursuit of gaining the most gold. After greed has taken the lives of the three men, death prevailed once again, making the sack of gold truly represent death. After reiterating how money is the root of all evil, the concept then becomes even more developed as the Pardoner is caught red handed by the host. Chaucer, in my opinion, must have been jipped by a Pardoner or two in his time because the overall characterization of this particular character becomes overwhelmingly unlikeable. All of the peculiar and abnormal features of the Pardoner’s physical and moral features force the reader to ponder issues like gender, sexuality, and the masculinity of people who occupy positions like this in society.

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