Positive Reflection: The Pardoner In Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales'

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Negative Corruption to Positive Reflection: The Pardoner’s Tale as Intended by Chaucer “Radix malorum est Cupiditas.” This is the motto of the Pardoner in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (“The Pardoner’s” 1). This phrase is literally translated as “The root of all evil is cupidity,” which suggests that the Pardoner believes that earthly things such as avarice, gluttony, and lust are the roots of all evil. The Pardoner refers to this motto throughout his tale and uses it to castigate and admonish the characters in his tales. However, Chaucer himself reveals many of his personal beliefs using the Pardoner’s motto and the Pardoner’s own hypocrisy. The Pardoner’s own motto and character as described in his prologue and the story of the “three …show more content…
From this point forward the reader can discern that the Pardoner is not a reliable narrator and is not someone whose morals can be trusted. The Pardoner also often shapes his teachings around his own beliefs, which is dangerous because many of his beliefs are flawed. The Pardoner’s motto, “Radix malorum est Cupiditas,” is a prime example of this (1). He teaches that the root of all evil is earthly things, and he later misinterprets passages in the Bible to support these teachings (2). Avarice, gluttony, and lust are definitely evils that everyone faces, but they are not the root of evil as suggested by the Pardoner. Another matter that the Pardoner describes in detail in his prologue is his own hypocrisy. He states that “Yes, I myself can preach against the vice / Of avarice that is my own device; / For though I’m guilty of that very sin…” (2). He also describes how he purchases and consumes large amounts of wine using the money that he collects from a person such as a poor widow prior to condemning gluttony and drunkenness in his actual tale (2). While all of this detail may seem to concern the Pardoner only, it is actually a message that Chaucer wants the reader to derive from the story. These details may only appear to be describing the Pardoner

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