Based on his proclaimed theme,' Radix malorum est Cupiditas, the Pardoner seems a worthy teller of a moral tale, but based on his description of himself and his work, he seems the least able of the pilgrims to truly appreciate morality. His Prologue offers a picture of a man completely divorced from the spiritual purpose of his occupation; instead of concerning himself with saving the souls of the congregations to whom he preaches, the Pardoner cares only about turning a profit from those willing to make donations to absolve their sins. His knapsack of false relics and questionable papal bulls he parades before his fellow pilgrims, informing them of how he takes advantage of guileless peasants and tricks them into trusting him with their salvation by showing off the relics and flaunting Latin rhetoric during his sermons. One can hardly expect a true moral tale from a man so consumed by avarice, yet his tale seems to preach against the very sin he has so wholeheartedly embraced.
[...] His descriptions of drunkenness are both steeped in allusion and grossly physical, the words of St. Paul juxtaposed against the grotesque image of: “Whan man so drynketh of the white and rede / That of his throte he maketh his pryvee / Thrugh thilke cursed superfluitee 526-28).” When added to the knowledge the Pardoner has of various wine-making regions, this sort of image suggests that he has more than a theoretical knowledge of the sins of drunkenness. In his subsequent invectives on ‘hasardrye' and ‘grete sweryng 631),' the Pardoner again mixes proper Biblical and classical references with possibly personal experience of the sins' vulgar realities. [...]
[...] The relationship between the Pardoner's Prologue and Tale illustrates the relationship between what we see and hear, what we know and think we know, and more specifically, the gaps within that relationship. The Pardoner offers ambiguities and uncertainties, leaves the listener or reader the responsibility of determining where truth ends and fable begins, and effaces himself from the ultimate decision of man's fate. Bibliography Primary Sources 1. Larry Benson, ed., The Riverside Chaucer, 3rd Edition, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1987) Secondary Sources: 1. [...]
[...] The relationship in question seems to be that between the reality of a moral fable and the reality it comments upon. Within the fable or tale itself, it is simple to attribute moral qualities where they ought to be attributed, and punish sin as it deserves to be punished, but what Chaucer seems most adamant about expressing is the incongruity between these fable-worlds and the real world they are meant to explain and ameliorate. The Pardoner can assert, moral tale yet I yow telle regardless of his personal practices and motives. [...]
[...] In order to ensure that his moral tale will be taken as a kind of universal truth, rather than a particularized instance, the Pardoner refrains from specifying too specifically his characters, leaving them identifiable only by their sins, ‘lecherye' and ‘glotonye.' Because it has a moral function, unlike many of the other Tales, specificity is undesirable because it excludes the audience from participation. Helen Cooper asserts, avoidance of particularity is a crucial part of the homiletic function of the story that it should condemn a whole way of life rather than three individuals.” The Pardoner, first and foremost, wants to prove that he can tell a good moral tale despite his personal lack of morals. [...]
[...] The Pardoner uses his own Prologue and his Tale to show what a feat it is for him, a self-proclaimed despicable character, to offer such a moral tale to his audience, and he would probably admit that he also uses both, or at least the Tale, to turn a profit from his audiences, and perhaps, though we cannot delve deeply enough into the Pardoner for unequivocal proof, he is using his own story and his Tale to convince his listeners to repent. [...]
using our reader.