• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

'One of the best short stories in English.' Discuss Chaucer's narrative skills as shown in the Pardoner's Tale in light of this comment.

Extracts from this document...


English Literature Essay 'One of the best short stories in English.' Discuss Chaucer's narrative skills as shown in the Pardoner's Tale in light of this comment. The Pardoner's Tale is a direct extension of the personality of the narrator, an overtly moralistic tale that serves primarily to elicit a specific response. It is a particularly shameless tale, a condemnation of avarice that stems from the avarice of its narrator; by condemning the sin, the Pardoner hopes to motivate the travelers to pay the Pardoner to absolve their sins. The character of the Pardoner is omnipresent throughout the tale, which is told in an intimidating oratorical style that intends to create a sense of horror at the consequences for sinful action. Throughout the tale the narrator drifts in and out from the story, as the Pardoner occasionally leaves the plot of the tale to launch into sermons against sin. Finally, at the conclusion of the tale, he reveals the rationale for this authorial intervention, preaching against avarice for the sole intention of selling phony relics to the travelers. The tale is thus less of a fully formed narrative than a performance given by the Pardoner in which he never submerges his presence in the story. ...read more.


The Pardoner, through Chaucer's depiction has no thoughts or feelings (except for the anger aroused by the Host's violent speech, which makes him speechless), no hopes or regrets. He never talks about his motives, except to reiterate drearily that his purpose is ever one. There is no mention of thought or feeling. but only descriptions of action. Chaucer intends to create a character not like the Wife of Bath, but one without soul, feeling, or inner being; a creature of "naked will, unaware of its existence but in the act of will" as Derek Pearsall so validly contends. There is one flicker of awareness of a world which is not an extension of the Pardoner's will. "Yet kan I maken oother folk to twynne From avarice, and soore to repente." (430-31) This gives him a momentary unease, but he does not seem to understand why it should do so, and it fades. It is ironic therefore, that the Pardoner, in seeking primarily to gain acceptance and belief in his words and his relics and secondly to make money does actually do God's work indirectly. He enforces the moral lesson inadvertently by the very example of his own shamelessness. ...read more.


Chaucer draws upon the classical debate about whether a deed can be termed a 'good action' if it is done for bad reasons, with evil intentions. It is a question which time has not answered and thus provides us with an excellent story today, and more so if taken in the Medieval context. Chaucer's intelligent style and use of imagery, rhetoric and are all evident within the Prologues, yet this comment is loaded with irony, another device that Chaucer uses often in the Prologues and tales. The irony presents the fact that while he himself is "a full vicious man"; he can still tell a moral tale. It also underlines the fact that while some people do see the difference between right and wrong, they often still make the conscious decision to behave in accordance with the latter, but shows us the apparent gulf between what the Pardoner appears to be compared with the seeming perception of himself. The story, in drawing on such moral issues that are accessible to so many and with so many morals and meanings of its own - at the same time having so accurate an account provides us with historical information and depth - shows this 'short story' of Chaucer's to indeed be One of the best short stories in English. Aymen Mahmoud JA4 English Literature/MP ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Geoffrey Chaucer section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Geoffrey Chaucer essays

  1. Compare and Contrast Chaucer’s Presentation of the Monk and the Pardoner

    I trowe he were a gleding or a mare." This implies that the Pardoner is either a eunuch of a female, in the middle ages this would have been as insulting as it is today. He also questions the Pardoner's masculinity, as one of the definitions of a male is the ability to grow facial hair.

  2. In this essay I am examining the three short stories "Turned" written by Charlotte ...

    Writer compared Joanna's character with Emily throughout the story. Emily became rich due to her unexpected marriage with a rich business man in the same town which she never expected. Shadrach supposed to marry Emily in the beginning. Due to Joanna's play it did not taken place. Emily's character was depicted as a traditional role model for women who has to bind to the family.

  1. The Juxtaposition of the sacred and the erotic is typical of the miller's style ...

    This implies that wives had affairs in those days. The analogy between the two would have been blasphemous in the Middle Ages therefore the moral pilgrims such as the Knight and the Parson would have been shocked by this. However, the monk and the friar should be offended too as

  2. Miller's Tale - Analyse the narrative structure of the tale and the effectiveness of ...

    To summerise the finale Absolon visits his blacksmith friend who gives him a 'hot coulter'. As an act of revenge he takes this 'poker' to brand Alisouns bottom, but it is not she who receives this painful punishment but Nicholas.

  1. The Merchant's Tale -summary

    If the pilgrims agree with him, he has limited their vision as he has limited their opinion of Januarie. Januarie is right, May is wrong and it is all her fault. May does not necessarily represent the Merchant's wife, but she does represent his hatred of her and for adulterous women.

  2. What is established in the opening to the 'Turn of the Screw' by Henry ...

    It is because she is not used to men like the uncle because she has been brought up in a village in Hampshire. The uncle is 'handsome and bold and pleasant, offhand and gay and kind' and this makes the governess fall in love with the uncle.

  1. The Tall Woman and Her Short Husband - During the course of this short ...

    The author makes sure we have this response because he says "and worse was to come." This makes us acknowledge the fact that what had already happened to him was bad and that more was to come. The story is no longer a comical story.

  2. Chaucer's Art of Characterization

    in the very next line ironically qualifies the word ?worthy? by commenting ?She was worthy woman all her lyve Husbands at church door she had five? But it remains to be noted that though he depicts most of his characters ironically and humorously yet tolerance and sympathy never lose Chaucer?s attention.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work