The Pardoner’s tale is one of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” about three men, the Pardoner, the Merchant, and the Franklin. The Pardoner is described as being portly with a tendency to drink too much wine, but also vicious when he doesn’t get his way. He has hair on his head, but none on the rest of his body. The Pardoner’s character is very greedy and overly ambitious. He has a considerable amount of money that he uses for bribery to gain access to people. The Pardoner has an uncle who had been a good man, giving generously of his time and money to the poor. After his uncle died, Pardoner began a life of corruption.
Still thinking himself a good man, Pardoner believes “all the sin is in the deed and not in the thought”. Pardoner believes he can trick people by pardoning their sins so that they will give him money. Pardoner believes pardons are more valuable than gold or jewels, meaning he will do just about anything to get them. He has spent years learning how to swindle people into giving him money for these pardons. Pardoners have been banned from preaching because they were using God’s name for profit rather than out of humility and generosity as Jesus had instructed his disciples to do (Luke 9:1-6).
The Pardoner is also a hypocrite, as he preaches that love of money is the root of all evil but then goes on to talk about how Pardoners are actually doing good by preaching against greed and avarice. Pardoner condemns gluttony but his greed for pardons nullifies any power his words might otherwise have had. Pardoner’s self-righteousness extends not only to virtues he practices, but also those he does not practice; Pardoner says it is better to be poor than rich because wealthy people think they can buy anything while the poor should be judged by God alone (Proverbs 30:8-9).
Pardoner doesn’t believe what he preaches, however, saying that “Jesus spoke in anger” when he said it. Pardoner believes he is the only one that can truly hear God’s words because Pardoners are closest to him. Pardoner also says that all Pardoners are “expert in love”, which they learn by watching how Jesus loves his disciples, but Pardoner doesn’t actually understand true love at all. Pardoner knows God’s will and yet disregards most of it in favor of money and selling pardons so he won’t die without any friends (Matthew 19:29).
The second major character in this tale is the Merchant who tells this story. While he is quite rich, most people call him a fool for travelling just to earn more money rather than spending his wealth. Pardoner believes this shows the Merchant is senile because Pardoners are the only ones that understand how to live well. Pardoner believes “there are many more fools among rich men than poor”. Pardoner thinks the Pardoner is much smarter for being willing to take money from people no matter how they get it, even if it means stealing or doing something illegal.
The third and final character in this story is the Franklin, a wealthy and generous man who represents moral uprightness and social success. This character contrasts with Pardoner’s greedy nature while representing what Pardoners truly ought to be like if they were actually focusing on God instead of money. The Franklin gives freely of his time, talent, and money to help others. Pardoner thinks he is better than the Franklin because Pardoners are closer to God, but Pardoner is not nearly as generous or virtuous as the Franklin appears to be.
The Pardoner’s Tale tells the story of three young men who are tricked into their graves by an old man named Death. The Pardoner claims that this story shows how people should always be humble and prepared for death regardless of their worldly success or failure. Pardoner uses his tale as a way of persuading people give him money so they can have more friends in heaven after they die (Luke 12:13-15). Pardoners also claim that if you confess your sins, you will be pardoned. Pardoner’s hypocrisy is shown when he claims to follow the commandment of the Lord and preach against greed, yet he still sells pardons.
Pardoner often uses a mirror as a symbol because Pardoners teach people to pray to God through their words but also need those prayers for themselves (Luke 18:1-8). Pardoner thinks that if Pardoners live properly, they should never die. In his story, Death represents Pardoner as an enemy who deceives people by making them think they can change Pardoner’s mind so they don’t have to fear him. Pardoner says “Dick [or “Dick”] – I mean Death – will find a way” whether you believe Pardoner or not. Pardoner then says that Pardoners are good, even though Pardoner represents Death.
Pardoner says he wishes he saw people repent more often so they would have “more friends in heaven” but Pardoners don’t actually want people to repent because Pardoners can never die if people keep confessing their sins. Pardoner claims the Pardoner is always right and has no contradictions within his teachings, which makes Pardoners appear to be evil by claiming they represent God’s word while actually disregarding most of it (Luke 16:10-13). Pardoner also thinks truthfully about what death does for sinners who were wealthy; Poner agrees that rich men will not go to heaven because Pardoner is only interested in the poor.
Pardoner claims Pardoners are good people who follow God’s word, but Pardoners preach against greed and yet still have a greedy nature themselves. Pardoner also believes he is better than the Franklin because Pardoners are closer to God, but Pardoner does not even come close to being as generous or virtuous as the Franklin appears to be. I agree that Pardoner doesn’t actually know what true love is which you have mentioned throughout your article. By saying “Pardoner knows God’s will and yet disregards most of it in favor of money” shows how corrupt Pardoner can be by disregarding certain commandments given from the Lord in favor of money.
Pardoner does not even come close to being as generous or virtuous as the Franklin appears to be and Pardoner is hypocritical by saying Pardoners are good people who follow God’s word while still preaching against greed and yet Pardoner still has a greedy nature. Pardoners preach against greed and yet Pardoner wants money which makes it appear that Pardoner follows his own rules rather than following God’s commandments. Pardoner also claims Pardoners are good people who follow God’s word, but he disregards most of what Christ says about love.