The Pardoner of the tale

This pardoner is a perverter of the mercy of G-d is in league with the Summonor, who is a perverter of justice, and sings with him.  He is, ironically, spiritually dead.  The General Prologue and The Pardoner’s Prologue, prepare for a devilish character who is fully revealed through his hypocritical sermonising.   The unrepentant pardoner ironically induces true repentance that hepersonally despises. 41 67.   A common fabliau motif is the trickster tricked: here the pardoner is tricked when the tale is read in conjunction with the General Prologue and The Pardoner’s prologue.  Having previously revealed his nefarious (wicked) practices, he gets carried away with the sermon and forgets this and urges them to buy pardons – starting with the host who explodes with abuse.

In ‘The Pardoner’s Prologue’, the pardoner places avarice (‘cupiditas’) as the root of evil

‘Radix malorum est cupiditas’ (6)

To make others turn from avarice/cupidity, the desire for wealth, is the pardoner’s stated ‘principal entente.’ but he boasts of being avaricious himself.  The tale is therefore highly ironic.  One example: he finishes his ale before starting his story which attacks drinking and drunkenness.

Very useful Study Guide giving insights into many aspects of the text, including a commentary on the significance of phrases.


Modern English rendering 

Chaucer: The Man and his Work

The Pardoner of the Tale

The Pardoner’s Tale as Sermon (Form)

The Pardoner’s Tale Annotated Text (first few lines)

The Pardoner’s Tale: context

Modern English version

The Pardoner’s Tale: questions

The Pardoner’s Tale: the uncanny

The Pardoner’s Tale: writing style and characterisation



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