Essay on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Evil Exposed in The Pardoner's Tale

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The Root of Evil Exposed in The Pardoner's Tale

"The root of all evil is money." Because this phrase has been

repeated so many times throughout history, one can fail to realize the

truth in this timeless statement. Whether applied to the corrupt clergy of

Geoffrey Chaucer's time, selling indulgences, or the corrupt televangelists

of today, auctioning off salvation to those who can afford it, this truth

never seems to lose its validity. In Chaucer's famous work The Canterbury

Tales, he points out many inherent flaws of human nature, all of which

still apply today. Many things have changed since the fourteenth century,

but humanity's ability to act foolish is not one of them. Perhaps the
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By

extolling his ability to profit from deception and fear, the Pardoner

offers himself as a clear example of the phrase he himself was fond of

quoting, Radix malorum est cupiditas, or "The root of evil is money". He

then proceeds to prove his point with his tale of three rioters and their

search for Death.

"The Pardoner's Tale" is an exemplum, or a story that teaches a

lesson. In telling his story, the Pardoner sets out to prove the

truthfulness of his statement of money being the root of evil. The story

definitely accomplishes this, as does the Pardoner's account of his own

occupation. The pardoner tells a story of three young rioters who, having

learned that a friend recently succumbed to the plague, seek to find, and

kill, Death. However, during the course of their quest, they meet an

untimely demise due to a pile of gold found under a tree. The Pardoner

manages to weave in the seven deadly
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