Throughout literature, relationships can often be found between the author of astory and the story that he writes. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s frame story,Canterbury Tales, many of the characters make this idea evident with the talesthat they tell.
A distinct relationship can be made between the character of thePardoner and the tale that he tells. Through the Prologue to the Pardoner’stale, the character of the Pardoner is revealed. Although the Pardoner displaysmany important traits, the most prevalent is his greed. Throughout the prologue,the Pardoner displays his greed and even admits that the only thing he caresabout is money: “I preach nothing except for gain” (“Pardoner’sTale”, Line 105). This avarice is seen strongly in the Pardoner’s tale aswell. In the Pardoner’s tale, three friends begin a journey in order to murderDeath. On their journey, though, an old man leads them to a great deal oftreasure.
At this point, all three of the friends in the tale display a greedsimilar to the Pardoner’s. The three friends decide that someone should bringbread and wine for a celebration. As the youngest of the friends leaves to gobuy wine, the other two greedily plot to kill him so they can split the treasureonly two ways. Even the youngest decides to “put it in his mind to buypoison / With which he might kill his two companions” (383, 384).
Thegreed, which is evident in the character of the Pardoner, is also clearly seenin the tale. Another trait that is displayed by the Pardoner and a character inhis tale is hypocrisy. Although the Pardoner is extremely greedy, he continuesto try and teach that “Avarice is the root of all evil” (6).
Thecharacters in his tale display great hypocrisy as well. As the tale begins, thefriends all act very trustworthy and faithful towards all of their friends. Theynobly make a decision to risk their lives while trying to slay their friend’smurderer. As they talk about their challenge, they pledge “to live and dieeach of them for the other, / As if he were his own blood brother”(241-242).
At the end of the tale, the “brothers” begin to revealtheir true nature. They all turn on each other in an attempt to steal thetreasure for themselves. All of the loyalty, which they had pledged, was simplya lie and no faithfulness remained. While the two older “brother”plotted to kill the younger, the younger “brother” plotted “tokill them both and never to repent” (388). Thus, these so-called faithful”brothers” display their true ruthlessness and reveal their hypocrisyin relation to the Pardoner’s character.
The characters in the “Pardoner’sTale” match the unctuous nature of the Pardoner in a great deal of ways.All of these traits and ideas that are seen in both the Pardoner and the talethat he tells show a strong relationship in the two. Chaucer used this techniquein all of the tales that are recorded in Canterbury Tales. This technique givesa greater insight into the mind of the teller.
By analyzing the tales, it ispossible to learn much about the teller of the tale. Using this method, Chaucerfocuses on the characteristics of each of the people involved in CanterburyTales, but also keeps the poem interesting.Book Reports