The Pardoner's Tale
Hypocricy in The Pardoner’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer
Hypocrisy is “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. The Pardoner in “The Pardoner’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer portrays a perfect example of hypocrisy as shown he “does not practice what he preaches” (141-142).
The Pardoner assaults selfishness in his sermons to impact his social event of people to surrender their gold to him to atone from their insatiability. Medieval Catholics were strong enthusiasts and might buy the relics and absolved knowing the Pardoner was a hypocrite. Although Catholics may think the Pardoner is a pretender, they would exploit each entryway for atonement, even a false one.
The Pardoner plainly believes that his lifestyle has nothing to do with the success of his preaching and should not affect them in any way. For example, the Pardoner states “Of avarice and of swich cursednesse Is al my prechyng, for to make hem free To yeven hir pens; and namely, unto me!” (112-114). This quote introduces the main notion of the Pardoner’s misleading covetousness, as he goes against cupidity in his preaching to make his audience individuals more liberal with their coins. He mortifies others for their insatiability with a certain end goal to fulfill his own, which the members fall for.
In addition, he describes himself in a way that influences him to appear like a sacred illustrative of the Pope himself. He knows his gathering of people: there’s the setup, story, and the endeavor to offer something, all wonderfully passed on. He uses certain phrases, sacred writing, and authentic figures to exhibit his point. The Pardoner is exceedingly pleased with himself as he utilizes pietism to control. “Myne handes and my tonge goon so yerne That is joye to se my bisynesse“ (112-113). He’s a scholarly person who puts his smarts to egotistical utilize.
For the most part, the Pardoner proves he is remorseless and unredeemable as he demonstrates his capacity to inspire genuine disgrace and apology to others without ever once being affected by these sentiments himself. He proves he is heartless as he says “But though myself be gilty in that synne, Yet kan I maken oother folk to twynne From avarice, and soore to repente” (141 – 143).
All things being equal, he contends that in spite of his flawed ethics, he can at present lecture a conventional sermon that moves atonement, which Catholics want, making the Pardoner a deceiver.
The Pardoner’s Tale and Accepting the Inevitable Lie
Stories are built on trust. But who or what we put our trust in is relative. Pardoner’s Tale is a story about a corrupt pardoner telling his interesting story. The Pardoner makes sure that the audience knows that he is a liar, driven by avarice above all else and that his intentions are foul. I will argue in this paper that no matter what the Pardoner’s intentions are, or how controversial his dishonesty is, he achieved something positive by completing a moral story. I will also claim that the listener/audience should always put their trust in the actual story itself, not to the storyteller. This method negates both the intention and honesty of the storyteller since these things do not matter if the story is the listener’s main focus and also makes the distinct separation of lying and deceiving.
Pardoner is a craftsman of building trust but why and how he is building this trust is quite interesting. Pardoner aims to gain money or in other words styles, his moves to makes sure that his avarice is sustained. Unlike a common liar or a counterfeit storyteller, he says or makes nothing to promote or legitimize his story because all he needs is to make sure that people are believing in him not particularly to his story. He is just using the moral of the story to impact a heavy strike to the heart of the audience and exploit them. However, he succeeds to give to the audience the actual moral of the story. In lines, 22-24 Pardoner states that by ‘preaching’ he wouldn’t do any ‘honest’ work (Chaucer). The choice of words is predominantly important in these lines since preaching is often associated with storytelling. These lines are the only lines that specify that this story is dishonest. All the other lines about this story before the actual beginning, like lines 15-20 is about getting ‘silver for the things I teach’ or ‘living in poverty’ these all are closely connected with the Pardoner being an exploiting and sordid man and these lines indicate nothing about the legitimacy of the story (Chaucer). In conclusion, the lack of specification indicates that one cannot reach a certain result if this story is honest or not. This specific situation is promoting my point by giving us no proof of a dishonest story and drawing our focus on what the story is trying to tell. By doing this Pardoner creates an unintentional trust towards his story. Both the reader and the actual listener seem to be affected by this condition. This is quite a positive thing since one should not trust the storyteller but the story that they are listening to. This way Pardoner makes sure -although unintentionally- that his claims of being a liar have no effect on both the reader and the listener.
Deception is a common term that is frequently confused with lying. Although they are closely related, they are not the same. In Pardoner’s story, Death is personified as a thief and since the Age is suitable this so-called thief is “stealing” a lot of lives in the disguise of plaques (Lines 65-71 Chaucer). There is a brief summary-like mini-story amid the actual tale. The storyteller of this mini-story is an old man that Death seems to have forgotten. This old man gives a summary like the story of his life and directs the actual vengeful ‘heroes’ of the story towards Death but what they find is, in fact, a pile of gold. What is important with this deception like story is how the truth was completely relative. Morally, the old man in fact not lied. This small conditional deception, however, does not destroy or negate the reality of his brief story. His deceptive ways will and did indeed damaged the credibility of his story however there is no indicator or reason to suggest his story was not true. The old man’s deception is a common feature of all stories. They suggest a moral point and they will almost always have exaggeration in them. These exaggerations are a form of deception. However, this form of deception is not directly lying and thus does not indicate a trust problem. We have no reason not to believe that the old man’s story was not true. Our heroes’ reaction to the pile of gold is also important. When presented with something much better they forgot and neglected the actual deception. This is much like the original listeners of the Pardoner’s Tale. They are listening even though they have been told more than once that the storyteller of the story is not trustworthy. The continued listening can be explained by this particular situation. They were presented with something far more interesting than a corrupt Pardoner talking about how dishonest he is, and they took it.
On the matter of lying, the very storytellers we adore and keep a close eye on are inevitably liars. Even though they are not certified liars, they did in fact at a point in their lives lied. We as always are continuing to give credit and trust to their stories even though we know they are liars. Ageless Literature can give us examples of writers and storytellers that were not good people and were driven by greed by today we are giving credit to them. This modern example is also a perfect way to understand why people are listening to the story of the Pardoner. Literature is often built on these small deceptive ways. Even other forms of literature will almost always have this small deceptive factor in them. Pardoner’s Tale is a particularly good example of showing us how this plot-twist like deceiving is the main element of teaching. Even though the old man’s story had a deathly conclusion it still can teach a greater moral to a greater audience.
- Chaucer, Geoffrey, and Nevill Coghill. The Canterbury Tales. London; New York: Penguin Books, 2003.
A Character Of The Old Man in the Pardoner’s Tale
The old man in ‘The Pardoner’s Tale is a strange character, there are many different ideas as to who, or what, he is. Old age in Chaucer’s time wasn’t something that many people would live to, so there are questions raised about how this man came to be so old. Nonetheless the encounter between him and the Revellers allows both Chaucer and the Pardoner to explore the morality of their characters and add to their tales.
One of the most obvious answers as to who death is is given by the Revellers themselves. They see the old man as being “his aspye,” or even that the old man is actually death him/itself, something which many people think might be true. Some of the evidence for this comes from the events which befall the three brothers after they have finished talking with the old man. The man tells the three Revellers where to go to look for death, leading them right to a massive hoard of “tresor” which in the end allows all three of them to ‘find death’. The fact that the man is old is also strange, as mentioned earlier old age wasn’t all that common, so a man walking around asking to swap his old age for somebody else’s youth. This is peculiar, as it isn’t possible to physically do this, unless of course you had special powers like the personified character of death might have done. One problem with the idea that the old man is death is the fact that he seems to be seeking death himself, yet he directs the three brothers to him, although that may all have been part of his devious plans.
As a way of moving the plot forward the old man is useful without having to have any deeper meaning, but he is so well crafted as a character that Chaucer can’t have used him out of mere convenience. He manages to craft the deaths of three brothers. One wonders if he, were death personified, carried his treasure around to use it to snare those he could and add to the gold as he went. The old man helps Chaucer, and possibly the Pardoner to show the audience that everybody has the capability to be and bring death to others, and that in seeking him one may find oneself.
If the old man were to simply be a plot device why does he seem to be so powerful, in terms of the final outcome? The old man, if he were just that, is entirely justified in wanting to be rid of the three revellers. After all, they have been extremely rude and offensive to him, even going as far as to threaten him. “ Tel Wher he is, or thou shall it abye.” It would seem entirely possible that an old man wandering around hoping to die would want to be rid of the three loutish men he encountered, were it not for the fact that he directs them away exactly towards a huge hoard of “tresor.”
If the huge hoard of tresor did belong to the old man it seems a reasonable assumption that it would have taken quite some time to accrue. Possibly more time than a real old man would have lived for, ergo there are more theories about the old man being a mythical character. One such character is ‘the Wandering Jew.’ A man who taunted Jesus on his way to crucifixion and must now wander the earth until the second coming, this seems ample time to collect a hoard of tresor. This theory also explains the man’s desire to die, “Ne deeth, allas! Ne wol nat han my lyf…” Having explained the tresor and the “greet age” of the old man, this theory also explains why the Wandering Jew/Old Man leads the three men to their deaths. Having taunted Jesus the Jew has learned his lesson, having had hundreds of years to consider it, and so teaches a lesson to the three men after they treat him as badly as he treated Jesus.
The old man could also represent simple age, experience and wisdom, which manages to overcome youth and mindless enthusiasm with ease. If this is true then it probably makes, not only the three brothers represent youth, but also the boy in the tavern, who also believes death to be a figure who can be hunted and eventually killed. The gold has a physical presence in the tale, but could also be taken to metaphorically represent the wisdom of experience, which the old man uses to dupe and outwit the young and unwise. The path that the old man sends the three Revellers down, being a “croked” “wey” could represent the sins of the three brothers, or those of all mankind.
Selfishness in The Pardoner’s Tale
A Bond of Fatality
Selfishness and greed are strong motivators; they plant seeds of determination that cannot be ignored. Even so, the consequences of selfish and greedy actions do not always prove to be positive. This is evident in both Macbeth by William Shakespeare and “The Pardoner’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer. Each story has a protagonist or a set of protagonists that break moral codes and risk everything in order to be victorious. Both Macbeth and “The Pardoner’s Tale” depict murder as a way of achieving a new and refined lifestyle.
Neither the three men in “The Pardoner’s Tale” nor Macbeth are evil or murderous prior to their desires. In “The Pardoner’s Tale”, the men’s original objective is to find Death and kill him, in order to avenge their friend who dies. This changes, though, when money becomes a factor and evokes greed in each of them: “…and there they found / A pile of golden florins on the ground, / …No longer was it Death those fellows sought” (Chaucer 192-194). The men are not seeking money initially, but once it is presented (P), they change and become corrupt. This also occurs in Macbeth; Macbeth is content in his life until three witches foretell his future: “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis! / …thane of Cawdor! / …that shalt be king hereafter!” (Shakespeare I, iii, 49-51). He then becomes infatuated with the idea of being king, and acts out of character to achieve what he wants. Therefore, desires provoke consequential actions in both “The Pardoner’s Tale” and Macbeth.
The three men in “The Pardoner’s Tale” and Macbeth’s efforts ultimately result in negative outcomes, despite their desired results. In “The Pardoner’s Tale”, two men plot to murder the third in order to keep gold for themselves: “Now look; when he comes back, get up in fun / To have a wrestle; then, as you attack, / I’ll up and put my dagger through his back” (Chaucer 247-250). The third man also plans to kill the other two men for his own benefit. In the end, both parties are successful, which leaves no successors in the situation; their selfish actions lead to their downfalls. Similarly, Macbeth’s continues to murder in order to protect himself and to keep his power, but he is just hurting himself with every kill. Rather than letting the prophecy fulfill itself, he takes matters into his own hands. Macbeth decides to kill Macduff, even when the prophecy does not include or suggest it:
“What need I fear of thee?
But yet I’ll make assurance double sure,
And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live,
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder.” (Shakespeare IV, i, 82-86)
This shows his relentless greed that is similar to the greed in “The Pardoner’s Tale.” So even though the three men and Macbeth abandon morality and commit murder for personal benefit, their actions were not rewarding.
Determination that is evoked by selfishness and greed (P) can be powerful, but detrimental. In both “The Pardoner’s Tale” and Macbeth, the protagonists are seemingly good people until presented with provocative items and/or lifestyles (P). They all turn to murder in order to receive what they want, but the outcomes are in no way what they expected. The moral of both stories is that greed can lead to tragic events.
The Consequences of Greed in The Pardoner’s Tale, a Novel by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Pardoner’s Tale: Evil, Greed, Death
Author of The Pardoner’s Tale, Geoffrey Chaucer, uses the symbol greed to portray his lesson, “Money is the root of all evil.” The parable introduces 3 men at a pub who are enraged upon learning a mutual friend was killed. A pact was made to hunt for Death, who is believed to be on a killing spree, in a nearby village about a mile away. Their journey to death begins.
Upon arrival to Death’s location, a pot of gold is to be found instead. “This treasure here Fortune to us has given That mirth and jollity our lives may liven” (Page 5, Line 10-11) Blinded by the abundant amount of riches, Death is all forgotten about. The symbol greed takes place when each man has an agenda to kill one another for the sake of gold. The youngest man heads to buy food, wine, and poison to kill rats. “And fetch us bread and wine here, privately. And two of us shall guard, right cunningly.” (Page 5, Line 35-36) The 2 older men make an agreement on splitting the riches. “Nevertheless, if I can shape it so That it be parted only by us two, Shall I not do a turn that is friendly.” (Page 6, Line 10-12) The food and wine have arrived and the youngest man is killed. Left with the richest to be split, the 2 men have a seat for drinks. Their journey to death has ended.
Geoffrey Chaucer portrays each man of having their own set of greed. Ultimately, it leads to the ceasing of their own “Death.” The lesson of greed shows me what it’s capable of even within close friends. The love of money is the root of all evil.
The Pardoner’s Tale story Review
“The Pardoner’s Tale”, written by Geoffrey Chaucer, exhibits several qualities of life, as we know it today. In this story, Chaucer writes about a man who speaks to his audience for money. This man begins speaking against all that partake in drinking, and gambling but he admits to committing these sins himself. The pardoner speaks of three guys that lost their lifes due to selfishness. That leaves the reader with the knowledge that money is the root of all evil.
The pardoner blames people who drink and says, “Lust is in all wine and drunkenness” (p 19). Even today, similar quotes can be heard from people across the nation. Many people love to advise others how to live their lives, but they lack the concept themselves.The pardoner is in fact this same way. He thrives to tell others the way of the Lord and condemn them for their sins; however, he is guilty of the same. In fact, just after he explains that swearing is evil, he says “Now for the love of Christ” (p 22).This could be considered a form of swearing. I find it ironic that he concludes his “sermon” by swearing with Christ’s name to begin his tale.
Another aspect to consider is the greed of the pardoner. The pardoner seeks a commission from his audience for his tales. He himself is also one that is overtaken by money. Does he sincerely care about the condition of one’s soul or is he just out for a quick buck? On page 27, the pardoner comments that his “holy pardon cures and will suffice/ So that it bring me gold, or silver brings/ Or else, I care not- brooches, spoons, or rings”. Personally, I believe that the pardoner is willing to tell just about anything to receive money for himself. This is one of his sins that is evident that allows me to propose the statement, “Practice what you preach, pardoner”. The story also portrays the effects that greed has on one’s life. The tale of the three men overtaken with greed relates to this present decade of people. “Show me the money” has been the theme of this generation. Everyone is caught up in his or her own battle of gaining their share of the riches. This is very similar to the tale of the three men that struck gold under the oak tree. The men were concerned with how to travel with the money without looking like robbers as noted when they stated, “For men would say that we were robbers strong/ and we’d, for our own treasure, hang ere long” (p 25).
They were not concerned about whose money they were stealing they cared only about their personal statue. They did not want to appear as robbers, so they planned to travel at night as seen in this quote on page 25, “This treasure must be carried home by night”. The three travelers set out to slay death. An old man directed them to death’s path. The path was under an oak tree that actually had a treasure of gold. In my opinion, the old man was very wise in pointing the fact out that death will be found at this tree. When the men reached the tree, they automatically begin to think only of themselves. They begin scheming against each other to gain more for them. Page 25 and 26 displays these quotes, “…poison he did pour” and “…romp with him as in a game/ and with your dagger see, you do the same”. These describe their plots of murder, which is indeed Death of which the old man was speaking. This old man recognized that money is the death of some people. He discerned their intentions and was intelligent enough to avoid that path.
Today, this same issue is visible. It may not always be to the point of death but it most likely will produce a negative outcome for another. People in this generation seem to care about themselves rather the well-being of those around them. Many reality shows on television somewhat portray this attitude. People on a given show desire the money for themselves. They do not care what they have to do to get it. They will lie, cheat, and steal; probably even kill if they could. The fact that it is televised is probably the only fact that keeps them from it! Death consumed the travelers because of their greed. In fact, they killed each other to gain more provisions for themselves. The youngest traveler made this statement, “Have all this treasure to myself alone” (p 26). He intentionally planned to kill his comrades for the love of money. Today, there are numerous reports of homicides due to money and greed. People are willing to do anything for personal capital gains. In our area of Sand Mountain, we do not see actual murder as much, but we do see other factors of emotional murder due to the love of money. People of this generation may not actually kill, but they do tear down other people. They lose friendships, love, and respect. Greed is the root of all evil that will truly have a negative effect on a person’s life.
The pardoner is a man that represents many people in this present day. He proceeds to tell others of their wrong doings; however, he is just as guilty. We, the people of this time, tend to do the same thing on a daily basis. We find it easy to tell others how to live their lives while we carry on with our sinful routine. In addition, this age of people is guilty of being self-centered just as the travelers were in this tale. The idea of today’s world demonstrates this same framework of thoughts. The people of this period are consumed with the love of money for themselves more than the welfare of those around them. It is interesting that a piece of literature written hundreds of years ago could portray life, as we know it today.