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How appropriate is it that the character of the Pardoner tells the tale?

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Introduction

"How appropriate is it that the character of the Pardoner tells the tale?" The Pardoner is a sinner preaching about sin. He takes on the role of the priest in order to take money for himself. His relics and documents are all fake, which suggests that he is exploiting God. As a result, God has make him physically and sexually ambiguous, "This Pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex, But smothe it heeng as dooth a strike of flex." This portrayal of the Pardoner adds irony to the tale, which is why it is appropriate for him to be telling the tale. On the other hand, the Pardoner is immoral and should not preach what he does not do himself, "Is al my preeching, for to make hem free To yeven hir pens, and namely unto me." He constantly pretends to be something he is not, "I stonde lyk a clerk in my pulpet". He also compares himself to a serpant, "Thus spitte I out my venym under hewe", which is a paradox as he has just compared himself to a dove. Therefore, his immorality can suggest that he is inappropriate to tell this tale. The pilgrims are blinded by his immorality and listen to his moral stories. He is attempting to show off his power of rhetoric to make himself appear to be above the pilgrims, "And in Latin I speke a wordes fewe, To saffron with my predicacioun, And for to stire hem to devocioun." ...read more.

Middle

To understand how integral the pardoner's character is to the tale, we have to consider his portrait in the 'General Prologue' and his self-exposition in the prologue that precedes the tale. Knowledge of his character adds irony to the tale, which allows us to decide whether he is an appropriate narrator or not. The Pardoner changes original sin from being 'temptation' to 'gluttony' in aid of his tale. As a consequence, religion is not considered to be as important to the Pardoner as showmanship. "For whil that Adam fasted, as I rede, He was in Paradis; and whan that he Eet of the fruit deffended on the tree, Anon he was out cast to wo and peyne." This suggests that Adam bit the apple because of greed and not temptation. This shows the Pardoner twisting his tales, in such a way that it shows that greed is his driving motivation. Again, this shows that pardoners at this time were corrupt and very few modelled themselves on the original pardoners. The Pardoner does not take on board this moral wrongs, "I rekke nevere, whan that they been beried, Though that hir soules goon a-blackeberied." This raises the point again of the Pardoner being a living example of not practising what he preaches. The Pardoner is greedy for money, "I preche of no thing but for coveitise." ...read more.

Conclusion

This suggests that there is hope yet for the Pardoner, and thus hope for everyone. Perhaps the Pardoner is a lost soul trying to become enlightened. This is ironic as he has been completely immoral up to this point. The revellers also create a sense of irony as they deceive themselves, "Now lat us sitte and drinke, and make us merie, And afterward we wol his body berie. And with that word it happed him, par cas, To take the botel ther the poison was, And drank, and yaf his felawe drinke also, For which anon they stroven bothe two." They try to chase death but end up dead themselves. Clearly, the Pardoner is a man of the cloth whose physical features reflect a benevolence quite befitting of such a character. His hands are not especially large, however, they hold in them a great deal of responsibility, inasmuch as the task of absolution is no small act, indeed. His eyes are soulful yet sorrowing in light of the grave moral depravity he routinely witnesses, his smile is warm and inviting in spite of his intrinsic desire to frown upon humanity's impertinence. There is an intimate link between the teller and the tale. The tale helps us to learn more about the Pardoner, however, there is a limit to our exploration of the Pardoner's character. We are unable to explain why the Pardoner fails to practise what he preaches. However, Chaucer could have used this to create irony in the tale, which suggests that the Pardoner is appropriate to tell this tale. ...read more.

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