Chaucer’s Use of Satire
(An in depth analysis into the General Prologue, Pardoner 's Tale, and the Wife of Bath)
What does it mean for literature to be characterized as a type of satire? According to Oxford Dictionaries, “Satire, is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” There are countless examples of how satire has enabled great writers a way to achieve their ultimate goals.
The portrayal of the Pardoner in the Canterbury Tales gives Chaucer a chance to satirize religious men in their deceitful, lying ways. The Pardoner is a liar. He persuades people to purchase certificates of forgiveness by preaching his moral stories. Chaucer creates the Pardoner to be a very greedy and deceitful preacher when he writes, "'And thus I preach against the very vice/ I make my living out of--avarice,'" (Chaucer 24-25). The Pardoner is telling his crowd that he preaches certain stories to make a living rooted in greed. He is so obssesed with greed, and want for money, the Pardoner will blatantly lie every day of his life. Chaucer is satirizing religious men in the story to make fun of them, and try to improve their behavior in the
Chaucer’s innovation in the Pardoner’s performance tests our concept of dramatic irony by suggesting information regarding the Pardoner’s sexuality, gender identity, and spirituality, major categories in the politics of identity, without confirming that information. Our presumed understanding of the Pardoner as a character lacks substantiation. As we learn about the Pardoner through the narrator’s eyes and ears, we look to fit the "noble ecclesiaste" (l. 708) into the figure shaped by our own prejudices and perceptions, as any active reader must do. But the Pardoner, ever aware of his audience, does not offer clear clues to his personality. This break between what the other characters say about the Pardoner and what the Pardoner says about himself has been a major source of tension for all readers of the Tales and especially critics who search for substantiation of their views beyond the Chaucer’s own language. The general tone of the Canterbury Tales is comic. After all, the pilgrims are traveling to the shrine St. Thomas Beckett in a public act of holy reverence, but the Tales take a darker turn when the Pardoner is brought to the foreground. The whole Canterbury Tales is a collected set of performances, stories told about telling stories. As Joseph Ganim has written, theatricality, by which he means "a governing sense of performance, an interplay among the author’s voice, his fictional characters, and his immediate audience," is "a paradigm for the Chaucerian poetic" (5). This paper shall endeavor to show that the major effect of the Pardoner’s presence in the Tales is to focus the reader’s attention to questions of performance and performativity, literary perception, ...
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...
In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer indirectly depicts the characters through the stories they tell. The tale is a window upon the person that tells it. However, the Pardoner’s tale seems to contradict this situation. The Pardoner, an immoral man, tells a moral story because he believes that doing this will further his ultimate objective – revenge upon God for his anomalous physical attributes. “He had the same small voice a goat has got. / His chin no beard had harboured, nor would harbour, / smoother than ever chin was left by barber. / I judge he was a gelding, or a mare” (21).
Greed, the most interpreted characteristic of the Pardoner began to be weaved in to the story beginning in his prologue through to the text after his story. The Pardoner discloses another trait that is displayed by himself and the characters in his tale concluded to be hypocrisy. The reader was able to divulge in another characteristic of the Pardoner including arrogance. The Pardoner himself was the ideal representation of the characters Chaucer wrote
but. "Chaucer: The Pardoner's Tale." Washington State University - Pullman, Washington . N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2011. .
Chaucer, Geoffrey. "The Pardoner's Tale." Chaucer's Works. Ed. Walter W. Skeat. Vol. 4. London: U of Oxford, 2007. N. pag. Web. 24 Apr. 2014
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is a collection of stories by a group of pilgrims who are heading to Canterbury Cathedral. In this book, the pardoner and the reeve show antipodal characters in many ways. The pardoner is beautiful blonde hair man who is being loved by everyone. However he is very corrupted and smart and sells fake religious stuff to people saying very good compliment. On the other hand, the reeve is very serious and honest business man. He is very smart enough to know what criminals think and do. The pardoner story-tells a great example (or tale?) of seven deadly sins and reeve’s story is mocking of the miller. These very different characteristic men tell story telling that human beings are always punished for being greedy. The crooked pardoner and the honest reeve have different purposes for telling their tales, but their stories have the same major theme; sins deserve punishment.
In the Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale written by George Chaucer, we can see how the pardoner turns to his advantage the need of people to seek forgiveness from God. To forgive was the pardoner’s job and he would do so for a price, he would give people the absolution needed in order to feel at peace with God and all the people that listened to him had to do was pay a price. The pardoner was very aware of the importance that absolution had for people and during his many presentations he would use his knowledge of the bible because of his religion to make them bel...