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One critic has observed that "Chaucer enhances the tale by setting it within the tones of the Pardoner's own narrative". How important to you consider Chaucer's characterisation of the Pardoner to the effect of the Prologue and Tale as a whole?

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Introduction

One critic has observed that "Chaucer enhances the tale by setting it within the tones of the Pardoner's own narrative". How important to you consider Chaucer's characterisation of the Pardoner to the effect of the Prologue and Tale as a whole? "The life of the tale is there in the living language, and it comes to our senses and mind, our feeling and thought, through the poetry: in reading it, we experience the medieval community, its values, and something of the way human life was carried on in it." Holbrook. "Telle us som moral thing, that we may leere Some wit" The Pardoner, at once a fascinating yet repulsive man successfully embraces this request, entertaining both his audience and reader with his tale condemning greed, pride, drunkedness and gambling, all "sinnes" that the Pardoner himself boasts of. Chaucer uses this stereotypical Pardoner of the 14th Century to both warn us and even preach to us, encouraging his contemporary reader not to be gulled by such a rouge, whose often implausible and inhuman behaviour was not exaggerated, simply taken from similar characters form Chaucer's era. ...read more.

Middle

The reason why the Pardoner reveals his phoney profession to his party of pilgrims is unclear and often criticised. However it could be argued that this confessional prologue, or "apologia" is a method in which to entertain the party he is travelling with, knowing that they would not be among the usual victims he normally preys on. Although perhaps he is foolishly allowing his vanity to spill out with the aid of his loosened tongue from the "drinke". The Tale that opens in a tavern clearly reflects the dwelling of the Pardoner and his party at the time. This is one of the many examples of obvious irony that saturates the entire tale. The tale itself is typically medieval, based around a strict structure and divided into several clearly separated points tackling each sin (a culpa) individually. His sermon-like build up to the tale proper is tautological, heavily ironic, deeply condemning and vile in places "O wombe! O bely! O stinking cod,". Interweaving biblical exempla to strengthen his preaching he also varies the tone and pace continually creating interest. ...read more.

Conclusion

This leads me to disagree with Charles Mosely; "We are listening to a soul that is dammed and does not yet know it" In my opinion the Pardoner is fully aware that he is dammed, yet is so corrupted that he doesn't take heed of the very religion he preaches, and frankly doesn't care about the destiny of anyone's soul, including his own. His ability to cleverly deceive and trick, undoubtedly earns him some admiration from the audience and reader, we as human beings seem to be drawn to evil and darkness, finding it much more interesting than pureness and virtuousness. Therefore through the Pardoner, Chaucer makes an amazing narrator, one who goes against god yet ends up serving him, one bursting with sin so that he not only encourages us to compare his greed, swearing, drinking, gambling and pride with his preaching but also our own. It could be argued that the only point at which the Pardoner fails is when he attempts to fool the audience to which he has just confessed all, a feat too ambitious even for the Pardoner, leaving himself open for ridicule and mockery. Andrea Jones ...read more.

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