Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is a Masterpiece

Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is a Masterpiece

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Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece "The Canterbury Tales" depicts characters from every stratum of feudal society and exposes the contradictions of the character's social roles. As a Church representative, the Pardoner, for instance, is to be a scammer of gullible believers. His tale is an ironic narrative that speaks about human morality. The Pardoner's tale is of three men finding fortune to have a better life and defeat death, but end up killing each other. Though the use of irony in "The Pardoner's Tale" satirizes both the corruption of the Catholic Church and individual human greed and materialism as evidenced by the characters in the tale and the Pardoner himself. The prologue or the introduction of the Pardoner's tale reveals his true character. The Pardoner uses his ties as a Church to manipulate people into giving him ill- gotten funds. He tells false tales and displays false artifacts just to fuel his "avarice." The Pardoner makes a lucrative living preaching "mockeries" in his "sermon, for it frees the pelf" and his purpose is to "win" and not to redeem people of "sin." The Pardoner himself is an embodiment of irony and contradiction by not only his practice of corruption but his tale being a moving parable that would strike shame within a person. The main characteristic of his personality and his tale is summed in his biblical statement in Latin, "Radix malorum est cupiditas," translated as "the love of money is the root of all evil." His irony derives from his wealthy-beggar status, corruption of the Church, and his tale denouncing all of his practices.
The tales three main characters of three young men drinking at local tavern and stumble upon the rumors of a thief named Death that began killing ruthlessly around a local village. The three men then swear to "kill this traitor Death" and made an oath to "live and die for one another." Their oath begins the theme of irony as later, these men who wished to protect each other like brothers all lay dead, being murdered by one another over ill-gotten fortune. Their oath also calls to kill and murder death, death being an unstoppable inevitable way life cannot be defied, and it is humorist thought that they challenged a natural factor of life. Though they pledged to rid death from the people, when they meet an old man, they ask why he is even bothering to live.

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Their apathy contradicts their very motivation to end death. The old man seems to even want Death, but it ironically takes younger souls, after the small talk the old man says that death waits near a tree. Though the three men find no incarnate or symbol of death, all three of their lives end at that spot.
Irony comes in many shades and positions and the contradiction continue to flip in this story. Irony comes in when the protagonists find not death under the tree but "a pile of golden florins" and "no longer was it Death' they sought, but the finest luxuries of life. The reckless youth had found not their death just yet, but ironically the promise of a better, richer life. The three began to sprout secret thoughts of undermining their so called "brothers" of the treasure. The youngest began harbor thoughts the "devil sent" of to "have all the treasure to myself alone!" Meanwhile and yet again ironically the other two agree to stab the younger one to his death and split the money between them. Soon the site of their promises had ironically become their site of death, and their bodies now represent the image of their foe, death himself.
After the Pardoner finished his tale, he continued to ask for a "shilling" or a "groat" only for donations of materialistic goods. The Pardoner makes money by hiding his secret desires of worldly goods and imposing the rhetorical statement of what possession is worth more than salvation. The Pardoners tale has the moral to humble any man of any stature and question the value of wealth over personal virtues, while he sells out his own morals. Money is the root of all evil, but it is an inconvenience not to have any, and while the Church attempts to avoid the temptation of excessive wealth, the contradictions of man thwart the common perception of morals. The Pardoner's Tale is a demonstration from Chaucer that though man may lie, liars speak truths, and that the manipulation of words can be all the benefit to any persons motives.
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