The Pardoners Tale

File:Blake Canterbury Pilgrims engraving.jpg

          Character Sketch

The Pardoner is the teller of the tale. Starting with the prologue, the reader learns the preaching methods of the Pardoner. He is very consistent with the phrase, "Radix malorum set cupiditas," which means that greed is the root of all evil. in opposition to this dauntless phrase that the Pardoner uses so often, it s s very clearly portrayed throughout the prologue that the pardoner is a greedy man. At the same time, he is a man that admits to himself, and to others, that what he is doing is wrong. Although the Pardoner himself lacks virtue, he preaches stories that do not. The Pardoner is a very successful preacher, and it is without a doubt that the people who repent after he speaks have been taught an important lesson. When it comes down to it, though, his life is a vicious cycle of lacking correlation between what he speaks and what he does.

                 The Irony

A Question to a Mintmaker, woodcut by Jörg Breu the Elder of Augsburg, circa 1530

The Pardoner’s tale is actually built on ironic grounds, with the Pardoner’s message contradicting his very nature. The prologue to the Pardoner’s tale describes what setting the tale is usually told in, which happens to be a sermon. The Pardoner admits to preaching for money and not for the curing of sin, and then proceeds to use the term “radix malorumestcupiditas, which means “greed is the root of all evil,” and is theme of all of the Pardoner’s sermons. Because the Pardoner is so greedy, yet preaches about greed being a sin, it makes the entire story ironic, considering who is telling it. Also, in the beginning of the tale the three main characters a described and ridiculed for their bad habits. These include gambling, drinking, and swearing, all of which the Pardoner does as well. This makes the story ironic because the Pardoner is speaking out against these acts, but at the same time is well known for doing all of them.

    Present Day Connections


The Pardoner’s Tale is all about greed and the consequences of it. The three men of the tale find gold and then secretly plan to kill each other for it. They could have all lived and shared the money but they were too greedy and wanted it all so they all ended up dead. This tale has some parallels to present day. Today there are many people who are very greedy and will stop at almost nothing to gain money or power. There are also those who are not so upfront about it but they are also very greedy in their own way. One example is the Ebola epidemic. When it was just in Africa, the United States were trying to help but was not spending too much money trying to find a cure, but once it reached America, funding increased. This is not as straightforward as the tale, but if researchers in America had spent more money on trying to find a cure before the illness reached America, not as many people would have died.

Ezra Winter, Canterbury tales mural (1939)

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