The Canterbury Tales

Liking and Loathing the Pardoner 12th Grade

The character of the Pardoner in Chaucer’s ‘The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale’ is a controversial, ethically depraved character that, it could be said, represents corruption within the Catholic Church. As the narrator of the tale, however, he brings appeal to his character through his skill as a storyteller, his wit, and his blunt preference of evil, which disregards the conventions and moral standards of Medieval England. Although the reader will clearly disapprove of the Pardoner’s character ethically, it could be reasoned that he is likeable from a dramatic viewpoint.

It could be argued that the Pardoner’s evil nature is somewhat charismatic, as he bluntly refuses to conform to Christian morality. In the Pardoner’s prologue, he unashamedly declares how he ‘telle a hundred false lapes’ to extract money from his congregations. In terms of dramatic judgement, it is entertaining and interesting to observe a character that seems proud of the fact that he ‘preche of no-thing but for coveityse’. In Medieval society, the Catholic Church was a politicised, domineering force that constantly reminded people of their own mortality and impending punishment in purgatory or hell if they sin. People, especially the less educated ones, were...

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