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...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1708 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10771 literature essays, 2703 sample college application essays, 648 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in