Hypocrisy In The Canterbury Tales And The Pardoner's Tale By Chaucer

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Fraud and honesty, deceit and truthfulness are common themes echoed throughout Medieval and Renaissance literature. In Chaucer’s The Franklin’s Tale and The Pardoner’s Tale there is a complex interweaving of these issues. This interweaving of thematic material is widespread throughout The Canterbury Tales because of the variety of Chaucer’s characterisation. The encompassing framed narrative of the Pilgrimage to Canterbury enabled Chaucer to characterise a microcosm of society at the time and a multiplicity of tales reflecting different issues over a broad social structure. Consequently, The Canterbury Tales is full of snide remarks in relation to the society in which Chaucer himself lived and some of his views mirrored the attitudes present …show more content…
These words are unambiguous with regards to the Pardoner’s view of religion and God; he is evidently using his position with the church as a means to trick and deceive people into thinking he has rebuked their sins for personal material gains. Furthermore, he is only interested in exploiting people who cannot see through his dishonesty. The pardoner in The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales is consequently a fraud. It is his job to trade pardons to acquire money for the church as it was the practice of the Church at the time to take money in exchange for absolution. Although the Pardoner preys on the disadvantaged and uneducated, telling them to buy forgiveness for their sins. Chaucer notices how the Pardoner has a wallet that ‘lay before him in his lap’ full of stolen, or ‘hot’ (Chaucer, 686 – 687) pardons, which he then sells to the poor and keeps the money for …show more content…
He has a pillowcase which he claims is the Virgin Mary’s veil, ‘for in his mail he had a pillowber/ which that he saide was Our Lady’s Veil (Chaucer, 694 – 695). Furthermore, he alleges that a piece of cloth he has in his possession is a part of the sail from the boat in which Peter sailed with Christ, when Christ walked on water. ‘He said he had a gobbet of the sail/ That Sainte Peter had when that he went/ Upon the sea, till Jesus Christ him hent’ (Chaucer 695 – 697). The Pardoner is therefore, evidently, not a true servant of God but more so a servant of self and he is not dutiful to any vocation other than the one that brings him personal gain. Chaucer was much aware of this common practice throughout his own life. Although having nothing but praise for the Parson, who is truly dedicated to his holy calling, Chaucer was not so forgiving in his descriptions of other members of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. This is significant as it undoubtedly exposes the corruption of the Church. Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales at a time when the Church in England was exceedingly dishonest and peasants were at the mercy of the Church.

Fraud and honesty are not only found in The Pardoner’s Tale, but also throughout The Canterbury Tales, examples of which can be found in The General Prologue and The Franklin’s Tale. In the prologue, many of the Pilgrims are attempting to appear as something they are

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