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The Pardoner, a Symbol of Greed in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Essay

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Geoffrey Chaucer’s famous medieval classic, The Canterbury Tales, offers its readers a vast array of characters. This God’s plenty features numerous unique and challenging individuals, but there is one specifically who stands out as particularly interesting. The immoral Pardoner, who, in a sense, sells away his soul for the sake of his own avarice, puzzles many modern readers with his strange logic. Already having laid his considerable guilt upon the table, this corrupted agent of the Church attempts to pawn off his counterfeit relics for a generous price. His actions are slightly troubling and mysterious, but his shameless misdeed is easily explainable if a reader chooses to interpret the man as a symbol rather than a fully formed human character. The Pardoner is Chaucer’s vivid illustration of fourteenth century greed.
Many a scholar has categorized Chaucer’s work as satirical, and his tale of the Pardoner is, by far, no exception. In fact, it is quite ironic that this symbol of greed is personified as an agent of the Catholic Church—a supposedly pious institution built on abstin...


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