The Canterbury Tales

An exploration of greed in The Pardoner's Tale and A Simple Plan 12th Grade

Although a contextual shift may result in changed values and attitudes, some traits are inherent in the human condition and transcend time. This is explored in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Pardoner’s Tale (TPT) and Sam Raimi’s A Simple Plan (ASP), through a depiction of human strengths and weaknesses involving the universal concerns of greed and deception.

In The Pardoner’s Tale, Chaucer condemns human nature’s avarice when presented with potential material wealth. The characterisation of the three ‘riotoures’ as full of avarice serves as a cautionary tale depicting the disastrous consequences of uncontrolled greed, which aligns with the potential for religious condemnation during the Medieval period. Chaucer further demonstrates the negative connotations of greed through the maxim, “Radix malorum est cupiditas” – greed is the root of all evil, which is central to the poem itself. Furthermore, in the prologue to The Pardoner’s Tale, Chaucer exposes the capacity of greed to influence an individual’s behaviour and actions, by utilising hyperbole in, “I preche of no thyng but for coveityse”. A disintegration of moral virtues and conscience is consequently seen through the ramifications of greed on human nature, denoted by the Pardoner’s...

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