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Chaucer's View of the Pardoner as a Character Essay

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Chaucer's View of the Pardoner as a Character

In the Pardoner’s Tale, Chaucer presents the Pardoner in a particular light, and being a religious figure, this allows him to make a general statement about religion at the time. Chaucer’s view of the Pardoner as a character, and also as something to epitomise religion at the time, is evident from his use of vocabulary, his style, and by using strong imagery and description. In this way, Chaucer builds the character of the Pardoner as someone who is ironically deceptive and driven by his own selfish motives.

A key theme that runs throughout the Pardoner’s Prologue is religion, and as the Pardoner’s proper role is to act as an intercessor between those who wish to repent and God
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He is simply ‘lyk a clerk’, but not a real one. Therefore, he succeeds in deceiving people by appearing to be so, but this image is only surface deep. Internally, the Pardoner is no such holy man. In both these examples, Chaucer exposes him as the deceitful and deceptive character that he is.

Chaucer’s style of language is also indicative of the Pardoner’s personality and attitudes. He generally uses a mocking tone that carries an ironic and witty sense of humour. However, it must be remembered that this was written at a time when there was much social restriction in what can and cannot be written, therefore the humour is kept subtle. It is usually evident when the Pardoner himself is speaking and so this informs the reader about his character. An example of this is when he says ‘Al had she taken prestes two or three’. During the previous lines, the Pardoner has professed that he carries a cure for jealousy, though the husband may know of the wife’s unfaithfulness and now says even if she had taken two or three priests as lovers. This is expected to produce an outburst of laughter and the
Pardoner is played like an expert comedian. He builds up the semantics line by line to keep his audience amused. He does this at the expense of the clergy as he ridicules them, making a mockery of priests by preaching their immorality and not taking their authority seriously.
Chaucer
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