In the “General Prologue” of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer explores what happens when spiritual goods begin to be profit-earning commodities, and question the effect of this trade upon the individual who practices it. The Pardoner that Chaucer writes about, is seen as a feminine con-artist who went against the typical perception of individuals associated with the church. A Pardoner is someone who was supposed to travel, selling official church pardons like pieces of paper with a bishop's signature on them or relics, entitling the bearer to forgiveness for their sins. They used the money raised for the maintenance of hospitals, the buildings of churches, repairing bridges and other causes. The Pardoner's portrait in “The General Proulouge” throws into question not only the character himself, but also the practices upon which he relies to make a living. In “The General Prologue”, Chaucer subtly suggests the ambiguous nature of the Pardoner.
The Pardoner in “The General Prologue” had a non-traditional appearance. Typically, Pardoners were not allowed to have long hair due to its feminine implications. Pardoners usually were bald and their head was covered by a hood. The atypical head dressing of Chaucer’s Pardoner is an understated view of the Pardoner’s alleged amigous nature. The Pardoner;s rebellious dressing with the, “heer as yelow as wex,/But smothe it heeng as dooth a strike of flex;/By ounces henge his lokkes that he hadde”, indicated the Pardoner’s rebellion against the Church. The Pardoner has no intentions of wearing his hood with Chaucer the author stating, “But hood, for jolitee, wered he noon,/For it was trussed up in his wallet,” indicating that the hood is stuffed firmly away. The atypical dressing indicates th...
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...ay have based the character after a real life Pardoner that Chaucer knew. The selling of false relics was highly taboo so the fictional character may be satirical representation of a Pardoner Chaucer the author knew. The Pardoner is initially introduced as a merry man associated with the church. The author then suggests the ambiguity of his sexuality making the reader think more about the character of the Pardoner. The author Chaucer shows the Pardoner preaches against greed which is ironic considering the Pardoner's hypocritical actions. Chaucer the author shows how the Pardoner uses his position as an employee of the Church to extort the poor, pocketing of indulgences, and failure to abide by teachings against jealousy and avarice. The juxtaposition of the church values and the characteristics of the Pardoner indicate the author’s satirical view on the Pardoner.
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