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Chaucer's View of the Pardoner as a Character Essay

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Chaucer's View of the Pardoner as a Character

In the Pardoner’s Tale, Chaucer presents the Pardoner in a particular
light, and being a religious figure, this allows him to make a general
statement about religion at the time. Chaucer’s view of the Pardoner
as a character, and also as something to epitomise religion at the
time, is evident from his use of vocabulary, his style, and by using
strong imagery and description. In this way, Chaucer builds the
character of the Pardoner as someone who is ironically deceptive and
driven by his own selfish motives.

A key theme that runs throughout the Pardoner’s Prologue is religion,
and as the Pardoner’s proper role is to act as an intercessor between
those who wish to repent and God himself, it is appropriate that
Chaucer uses a great deal of religious lexis. There are many examples
of this all through the text, such as when he mentions that the
Pardoner carries ‘Bulles of popes and cardinals’ or ‘official
documents’ signed by popes and cardinals. The plural use of the word
‘popes’ reveals a lot about the Pardoner in that it immediately shows
his disregard and contempt for the clergy. Religiously, there is only
meant to be one Pope and pluralizing the word devalues the pro-noun to
a simple noun. The lack of determiners only further degrades the Pope
as it shows no differentiation in these religious figures and others.
They are simply the same and en masse, whereas, believers of the
religion would disagree and be of the opinion that the Pope is the
highest religious authority, but the Pardoner brings him down to basic
levels and standards.

Another example of lexis related to religion is when the Pardoner says
‘I stonde lyk a clerk in my pulpet’. This simile un...


... middle of paper ...


...oner and Chaucer does not let his readers forget it as he gives
continuous reminders throughout the text.

Chaucer is not always so subtle in his presentation of the Pardoner.
Near the end of the prologue, the Pardoner boldly asserts that ‘though
myself be a full vicious man, A moral tale yet I you telle kan.’ The
pardoner describes himself as we have aready been made to see him by
Chaucer’s other techniques and here he admits it shamelessly, which
only adds to the readers’ negative impression of him, in that he is
not only deceptive, deceitful and ‘vicious’ but he also has no regret
or remorse for his actions and attitudes, hence he is unlikely to
change. It is ironic that the Pardoner admits to this characteristic
of his and then claims that he will still be able to tell a moral
tale, although his admittance also shows that he is aware of this
irony.


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