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Essay on Verbal and Situational Irony in The Pardoner’s Tale of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

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The Pardoner’s Tale:  Use of Verbal and Situational Irony      

 

In “The Pardoner’s Tale,” Geoffrey Chaucer masterfully frames an informal homily.  Through the use of verbal and situational irony, Chaucer is able to accentuate the moral characteristics of the Pardoner.  The essence of the story is exemplified by the blatant discrepancy between the character of the storyteller and the message of his story.  By analyzing this contrast, the reader can place himself in the mind of the Pardoner in order to account for his psychology.

 In the Prologue of the tale, the Pardoner clearly admits that he preaches for nothing but for the greed of gain.  His sermons revolve around the biblical idea that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).  Ironically, however, the Pardoner condemns the very same vice that he lives by, as he proclaims “avarice is the theme that I employ in all my sermons, to make the people free in giving pennies—especially to me”.  Thus, covetousness is both the su...

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