An Analysis Of Pardoner's Prologue And Tale

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We have all heard the common adage “Practice what you preach.” Another version of this sentiment can be found in the saying “You cannot just talk the talk; you must walk the walk.” In other words, it is commonly considered useless for one to talk about doing something or living a certain way if he does not actually live out those words. It is overall a sentiment that denounces hypocrisy. This idea is explored by Geoffrey Chaucer in his “Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale,” as well as the Introduction to the tale. Chaucer identifies a pardoner as his main character for the story and utilizes the situational and verbal irony found in the pardoner’s interactions and deplorable personality to demonstrate his belief in the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church during this time.
Chaucer first begins his sly jab at the Church’s motives through the description of the Pardoner’s physical appearance and attitude in his “Canterbury Tales.” Chaucer uses the Pardoner as a representation of the Church as a whole, and by describing the Pardoner and his defects, is able to show what he thinks of the Roman Catholic Church. All people present in the “Canterbury Tales” must tell a tale as a part of story-telling contest, and the pilgrim Chaucer, the character in the story Chaucer uses to portray himself, writes down the tales as they are told, as well as the story teller. The description of the Pardoner hints at the relationship and similarity between the Pardoner and the Church as a whole, as well as marks the beginning of the irony to be observed throughout the “Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale.” The narrator describes the Pardoner as an extremely over confident, arrogant, and unattractive man, noting that his hair is “as yellow as wex,” lying thin and fl...

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...irony, the corruption he believes can be found in the Church, pointing at its common tendency in this time to take advantage of the people through its power. He also shows through the Pardoner that perhaps immoral people cannot guide people to morality, through subtle lines such as “For though myself be a ful vicious man,/ A moral tale yit I you telle can” (GP 171-172). Through Chaucer’s portrayal of the Pardoner in this tale, the audience is able to see that the Pardoner is a self-absorbed, greedy man that mirrors what the author thinks of the Church, and that the Pardoner is the exact opposite of what he preaches, which also points towards the supposed corruption of the Church. The irony found throughout this work serves the important purpose of bringing attention to the dishonesty and fraud Chaucer believes can be found in the Roman Catholic Church at this time.

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