The Pardoner's Tale
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.