Sin, Guilt and Shame in The Pardoner's Tale Essay

Sin, Guilt and Shame in The Pardoner's Tale Essay

Length: 1375 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

 
Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Pardoner's Tale," a relatively straightforward satirical and anti-capitalist view of the church, contrasts motifs of sin with the salvational properties of religion to draw out the complex self-loathing of the emasculated Pardoner. In particular, Chaucer concentrates on the Pardoner's references to the evils of alcohol, gambling, blasphemy, and money, which aim not only to condemn his listeners and unbuckle their purses, but to elicit their wrath and expose his eunuchism.

Chaucer's depiction of the Pardoner in "The General Prologue" is unsparing in its effeteness; he has "heer as yelow as wax/ But smoothe it heeng as dooth a strike of flex/ By ounces heenge his lokkes that he hadde...But thinne it lay, by colpons, oon by oon" (677-681). The pale, lanky qualities of his hair relate to his androgynous makeup, and the repetition of "heeng" ironically foreshadows his castration. Further hints of the Pardoner's being a eunuch, such as "A vois he hadde as smal as hath a goot/ No beerd hadde he, ne never shold have," are interspersed between description of his "feined flaterye and japes" that accompany his selling of false relics (707). The assumption can be drawn that the Pardoner's status as a man is also one of "feined flaterye and japes," that he relies on words to compensate for what he considers a body as fraudulent as his relics. In this sense, the relics become a substitute for the Pardoner's loss of masculinity, yet also a symbol of his incompleteness. The Pardoner's need to flaunt them corresponds with his desire to boast of his hypocrisy, a preemptive, self-deprecating strike that ensures future resentment from his audience: "Thus can I preche again that same vice/ Which th...


... middle of paper ...


... I wol thee helpe hem carye./ They shal be shrined in an hogges tord" (664-7). The Pardoner is speechless, and his repressed motive to expose the direct connection between his relics and his testicles is finally made by someone else. After the knight restores tranquillity, it leads one to wonder whether the Pardoner's underlying intent may have been to expiate his guilt and face his shame.

 

Works Cited and Consulted

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales in The Riverside Chaucer. General Ed. Benson, Larry D. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987.

 Pichaske, David R.    "Pardoner's Tale." The Movement of the Canterbury Tales: Chaucer's Literary Pilgrimage.  New York:  Norwood Editions, 1977

 Rossignol, Rosalyn.   "The Pardoner's Tale."  Chaucer A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Works.   New York:  Facts On File, Inc., 1999

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay Summary and Analysis of The Wife of Bath's Tale

- Summary and Analysis of The Wife of Bath's Tale Prologue to the Wife of Bath's Tale: The Wife of Bath begins the prologue to her tale by boasting of her experience in marriage. She has married five men already, and ignores the idea that this is a reproach to Christian principles. She is merely adhering to the Christian principle of "be fruitful and multiply." She cites the case of King Solomon, who had multiple wives, and tells the group that she welcomes the opportunity for her sixth husband....   [tags: Canterbury Tales The Wife of Bath's Tale Essays]

Powerful Essays
1854 words (5.3 pages)

The Tale of the Pardoner in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay

- A Look at the Pardoner: the Genius of Chaucer The Canterbury Tales is a literary masterpiece in which the brilliant author Geoffrey Chaucer sought out to accomplish various goals. Chaucer wrote his tales during the late 1300’s. This puts him right at the beginning of the decline of the Middle Ages. Historically, we know that a middle class was just starting to take shape at this time, due to the emerging commerce industry. Chaucer was able to see the importance and future success of the middle class, and wrote his work with them in mind....   [tags: Pardoner's Tale]

Free Essays
1940 words (5.5 pages)

Essay on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Evil Exposed in The Pardoner's Tale

- The Root of Evil Exposed in The Pardoner's Tale   "The root of all evil is money."  Because this phrase has been repeated so many times throughout history, one can fail to realize the truth in this timeless statement.  Whether applied to the corrupt clergy of Geoffrey Chaucer's time, selling indulgences, or the corrupt televangelists of today, auctioning off salvation to those who can afford it, this truth never seems to lose its validity.  In Chaucer's famous work The Canterbury Tales, he points out many inherent flaws of human nature, all of which still apply today.  Many things have changed since the fourteenth century, but humanity's ability to act foolish is not...   [tags: Pardoner's Tale]

Powerful Essays
1099 words (3.1 pages)

Summary and Analysis of The Pardoner's Tale Essay example

- Summary and Analysis of The Pardoner's Tale (The Canterbury Tales) Prologue to the Pardoner's Tale: The Host thinks that the cause of Virginia's death in the previous tale was her beauty. To counter the sadness of the tale, the Host suggests that the Pardoner tell a lighter tale. The Pardoner delays, for he wants to finish his meal, but says that he shall tell a moral tale. He says that he will tell a tale with this moral: the love of money is the root of all evil. He claims that during his sermons he shows useless trifles that he passes off as saints' relics....   [tags: Canterbury Tales The Pardoner's Tale Essays]

Powerful Essays
1337 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on The Pardoner’s Tale of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

- The Canterbury Tales - The Pardoner’s Tale  One might assume that the person telling the story has a lot to do with the story they're telling.  This is the case in the Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales." In the tale of "The Pardoner's", the voice tells a tale dealing with his famous preach; "Radix malorum est Cupiditas."  In English, "The root of all evil is Greed." An ironic distinction can be made with what a "Pardoner" is known to be, the character (the voice/Pardoner), and the tale that he tells....   [tags: Pardoner's Tale]

Free Essays
449 words (1.3 pages)

Essay on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Sin in The Pardoner's Tale

- Importance of Sin in The Pardoner's Tale There are seven deadly sins that, once committed, diminish the prospect of eternal life and happiness in heaven. They are referred to as deadly because each sin is closely linked to another, leading to other greater sins. The seven deadly sins are pride, envy, anger, sloth, gluttony, avarice, and lechery. Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, provided an excellent story about the deadly sins. Focusing mainly on the sins of pride, gluttony and greed, the characters found in The Canterbury Tales, particularly The Pardoner's Tale, were so overwhelmed by their earthly desires and ambitions that they failed to see the effe...   [tags: Pardoner's Tale]

Free Essays
774 words (2.2 pages)

The Rich Diversity of Meanings of the Pardoner's Tale Essay

- The Rich Diversity of Meanings of the Pardoner's Tale 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....   [tags: Pardoner's Tale Essays]

Powerful Essays
5601 words (16 pages)

Essay on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Power of the Pardoner's Tale

- The Power of the Pardoner's Tale       Geoffrey Chaucer was a author of the 12th century.  Chaucer is known as the father of English poetry.  He wrote Canterbury Tales which is a collection of narrative short stories written in verse.  "The Pardoners Tale" is among the more popular of these varied tales.  It is told by a pardoner who uses the story to preach against those who are blastfamous and gluttonous.  In an odd twist, after he tells the story he trys to sell others counterfiet relics.  In this short story about greed, disrespect and death Chaucer utilizes three important literary tools personification, irony, and symbolism....   [tags: Pardoner's Tale]

Free Essays
945 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Greed in the Pardoner’s Tale

- The Pardoner’s Greed   The pardoner, in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Pardoner’s Tale, is a devious character.  He is a man with a great knowledge of the Catholic Church and a great love of God. However, despite the fact that he is someone whom is looked at with respect at the time, the pardoner is nothing more than an imposter who makes his living by fooling people into thinking he forgives their sins, and in exchange for pardons, he takes their money.  His sermon-like stories and false relics fool the people of the towns he visits and make him seem as a plausible man, which is exactly what the pardoner wants.  In fact, the pardoner is an avaricious and deceitful character whose driving force...   [tags: Pardoner's Tale Essays]

Powerful Essays
1305 words (3.7 pages)

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

- 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....   [tags: Pardoner's Tale]

Powerful Essays
752 words (2.1 pages)