Essay on Sin, Guilt and Shame in The Pardoner's Tale

1371 Words 6 Pages
Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Pardoner's Tale," a relatively straightforward satirical and anti-capitalist view of the church, contrasts motifs of sin with the salvational properties of religion to draw out the complex self-loathing of the emasculated Pardoner. In particular, Chaucer concentrates on the Pardoner's references to the evils of alcohol, gambling, blasphemy, and money, which aim not only to condemn his listeners and unbuckle their purses, but to elicit their wrath and expose his eunuchism.

Chaucer's depiction of the Pardoner in "The General Prologue" is unsparing in its effeteness; he has "heer as yelow as wax/ But smoothe it heeng as dooth a strike of flex/ By ounces heenge his lokkes that he hadde...But thinne it
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The duality of his relics symmetrizes itself at the end of his tale, but not before he speaks of the oppositions of religion and sin that directly criticize his audience and, subconsciously, his own hypocrisy.

The Pardoner consistently brings up the redemption of Christ and God throughout his tale. He polarizes original sin and Christ: "O glotonye, ful of cursednesse!/ O cause first of oure confusion!/ O original of oure dampnacioun,/ Til Christ hadde brought us with his blood again!" (210-3) He moves on to gluttony, and his nuanced technique of delivering subconscious critique becomes more apparent: "'They been enemies of Cristes crois,/ Of which the ende is deeth‹wombe is hir god!/ O wombe, O bely, O stinking cod,/ Fulfilled of dong and of corrupcioun!'" (244-7) His tale takes place while the Pilgrims (and the Pardoner) are drinking at an inn, and his further attacks on alcohol reveal his blatant hypocritical values: "A lecherous thing is win, and dronkenesse/ Is ful of striving and of wrecchednesse./ O dronke man, disfigured is thy face!/ Sour is thy breeth, foul artou to embrace!" (261-3) The Pardoner's moralistic statement condemns himself more than his audience, as he is the "dronke man" of the group; he is the lecherous drunk who "wil drinke licour of the vine/ And have a joly wenche in every town"
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