The Pardoner and His Tale
The Pardoner is a renaissance figure that wanders the lands in hopes of bringing forgiveness to those in need. This Pardoner is a bad pardoner among the other pardoners. The tale that he tells is a moral one that is suppose to bring about the desire from people to ask for forgiveness. Instead the Pardoner uses this tale as a way of contracting money from his fellow pilgrims. The Pardoner is a person that is suppose to practice what he preaches. What that person does affects those that look up to that person. The Pardoner must be able to tell of tales that bring about hope. The way in which that might happen is through example. If the pardoner is unable ...view middle of the document...
An honest pardoner would be much like a fund-raiser for any religious or charitable organization today. But a dishonest pardoner like this one had many opportunities to profit at the expense of the naive. Once he was able to "stir them to devotion" (VI,C,346), he could pull out his "relics," odds and ends, bits of stones and bones and cloth, and offer them for sale(Hallissy 214).
A Pardoner is not necessarily a bad person. That is true because not all people
are bad, just that there are always "some rotten apples in every good batch." This is true
about this such pardoner.
By trade the Pardoner is a preacher. His task is to use his rhetorical gifts to persuade his hearers to repent and be saved. The sermon, then and now, is a major part of the Christian liturgy. The homilist selects a scriptural passage on which to expound, typically one selected from the day's liturgy. Since the Pardoner is an itinerant preacher and not a parish clerk, his audience changes. So he uses not only the same text but also the same sermon over and over. His scriptural passage is
always the same: "Radix malorum est Cupidatas" (VI, C, 334); cupidity, the inordinate desire for or excessive love of money, is the root of all evil. Nothing is wrong with this text, or even the Pardoner's sermon on it. Something is very wrong when the Pardoner's intention, however. He deliberately uses his considerable homiletic skills to persuade his audience to demonstrate their ability to overcome cupiditas by generously giving their money away - to him (Hallissy, 213-214).
The Pardoner preaches against the very vice that he practices. The pardoner is evil as
his own rhetoric identifies him to be.
The Pardoner described his own words as poisonous. As a churchman, he should employ his considerable speech skills in the service of God. Instead he sees himself as Satan's agent, a serpent "stinging" his audience with his "sharp tongue/In preaching" (VI, C, 413-414). He misuses his God-given talent to nurture the very Cupiditas against which he preaches(Hallissy, 216):
The tale that the pardoner tells is morally abhorrent, but this could be an attempt of a
cynical exploitation of religion for his own financial advantage. The tale can be viewed asan image of how one should not live, and how the pardoner does live (Cooper, 263).
"The Pardoner's Tale" doesn't match the person who tells the tale. "Spoken by the
Pardoner, it becomes deeply immoral - not only as a revelation of his own vice, but as a
means to advance his own love of money; and moreover he chooses this tale while
drinking in the tavern setting he so fiercely condemns." The way in which to see how the
"Pardoner's Tale" is not coincidental to the character identification is through this
contraction of two stories in Fragment VI.
The contrasts between the two stories of Fragment VI have been discussed in connection with the Physician's Tale. The tellers as well as the...