Chaucer"s intentions

The Pardoner"s Prologue and Tale space intended to be amusing and also Chaucer has vivid exchanges and speeches, and also a dramatic tale. However, your intention is additionally serious. The Prologue is a satire, drastically exposing the accusation that some branches the the Church peddle false relics, play on empty superstitions and also use these just to do money.

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Chaucer, like numerous other authors in all periods, prefaces countless of his tales through prologues. These are introductions of various kinds to the product in the tale. A prologue may take the form of:

Information around the background or the source (some of the tales are taken from earlier texts) one elegant i on a theme relevant to the story

The Pardoner and the mam of Bath

The Pardoner"s Prologue is far longer 보다 the average prologue in The Canterbury Tales. The just other prologue as lengthy is that of the wife of Bath. Chaucer designs each of these together a kind of confession by a first-person speaker, revealing attitudes and behaviour i beg your pardon is, from numerous points that view, questionable:


The mam is presented together a woman that is both disobedient to she husbands and also prepared to get what she desires out of lock financially. This to be the the contrary of modern-day expectations that wives were obedient and that, during marriage, every the money — hers as well as his — was at the husband"s handle

Both the Wife and Pardoner represent groups around whom there was lot satire in the middle Ages: women and also clerics:

Anti-feminist satires frequently presented women as disobedient, also talkative, rebellious, lustful and also prone come evil. Marriage, therefore, to be a state which men would do well to avoid! Anticlerical satires (satires versus the clergy) often focused on the alleged gaue won abuses that the Church.


Satire is mock that has a moral purpose. It mirrors up folly and also wickedness by wit and also caricature. As a literary form, satire is not just comedy and also not simply an strike on evil or folly. Ever since classical times, it has declared to have actually a ethical aim. Thus, satire is a didactic kind with social and also moral purpose.

Anticlerical satire

The Links and The Prologue are common of a long-established heritage of savage mockery of faults in the modern Church. The most typical targets are financial abuses. In The Pardoner"s Prologue and the 2nd Link, ~ the tale ends, the target that Chaucer"s satire is particularly the sale of ‘pardons" or indulgences. The Prologue additionally satirises the exploitation, for money, of credulous people"s reverence for divine relics (usually that saints, but in this satire, they incorporate a sheep"s bone).

The Pardoner"s Prologue illustrates real-life malice being attacked and also exposed by the development of fantastically, grotesquely, exaggeration versions of them. For example, no-one would really walk as far as trying to palm off a sheep"s bone as a miracle-working relic.

A reflection on day-to-day behaviour

In laughing at these outrageous absurdities, Chaucer"s audience additionally recognises that to pass off superstition as spiritually extensive in their own lives is simply as illogical. The absurd grotesqueness that the Pardoner i do not care a clever pointer to the empty pretence that is corrupting some areas of the Church. Chaucer is exposing the way in which part churchmen encouraged human being to put their trust in relics and pardons, instead of in a true repentance because that sins and also a real resolve to try to live better, spoken of in the Bible. The corruption the is walk on is made come seem absurd and also grotesque as well as harmful.


Satire regularly uses irony. A very clear ironical element here is that the Pardoner likes to preach on the theme that ‘money is the source of all evil (Love of)", while himself being motivated entirely by the love the money in his deceptions and also exploitations.

A hypocritical narrator

One that the Pardoner"s vices is hypocrisy: evil hidden under an appearance of virtue. The Pardoner"s Prologue is specifically clever in that it is voiced through the hypocrite himself. The maker of using the first-person voice seems to display us inside the evil doer; it is one exposé conducted, as it were, by himself. The result is to add a wittily captured boastfulness come behaviour that would certainly otherwise be taken into consideration shameful. Together first-person exposés through a fictional character are often discovered in middle ages satire and drama, and also are part of a literature tradition:

The Pardoner"s Prologue each other a decided in the renowned thirteenth-century French poem The romance of the Rose, through a character representing the evil of hypocrisy. The personality is dubbed ‘Pope-holiness" (a word an interpretation ‘hypocrisy") and also he defines his various deceptions. Chaucer and also many of his audience would as such be acquainted with this type of self-revealing rogue in literature.

A clever paradox

The paradox in ~ The Pardoner"s Prologue is that the character"s obvious revelations around his very own sins come across as one ironical type of confession. It"s ironical because true confession is the last point he"s encouraging world to do! His cheat is one i m sorry undermines the Church"s device of confession come a priest. Yet Chaucer presents this in a item of creating that chin sounds confessional (though also, perhaps, boastful).

The tone of the text is fairly intriguing. The works finest if you don"t mean it to be a plausible kind of decided such together a genuine person could give. Chaucer was living before absolute realism that that sort was taken into consideration desirable in literature. His text can take on a variety of different tones without an obstacle because he—and his audience—are not restrained by the expectations of a later age that all literary works does is to mimic how world behave. Thus, the irony of the confessional tone here is possible.


Today we mean authors to develop ‘characters" who appear consistent and also believable. However a medieval writer can just usage a ‘voice" an ext freely, there is no necessarily creating a continuous impression. That does no always help to look because that motives or a personality behind the voice.

Chaucer"s effects in this Prologue room different:

Itemising several of the tricks such men play, so the they deserve to be recognised for what they room Making civilization despise and also condemn both such tricks and also the greed behind lock The maker of making together a rogue confess, shamelessly, additionally has the effect of removing any type of dignity from such superstitious scams.

Because Chaucer is not writing in the hyper-realistic layout we are provided to in the novel, he provides little background information except what is necessary for the plot or i beg your pardon carries significance, consisting of symbolic significance. It was far less complicated for writers to use characters" speeches and also actions to carry out things such together convey ideas symbolically or satirically. Art did not need to be tied come the impeded of what would certainly be plausible in simple life.


Sermons would have been heard every main by Chaucer"s church-going audience, and also so be a really familiar format. The middle ages sermon was central in to teach Christians about:

Their confidence Christian doctrines and also practices Morality.

They to be of massive importance in a society in which most world had small or no capacity to check out and little access to publications even if they to be literate. In addition, few people knew sufficient Latin to check out the scriptures for themselves.

Sermons aroused attention and an excellent preachers to be appreciated, both because that their an abilities in presentation and also for the contents of what lock taught. A sermon native a lively or controversial preacher would be a popular, thought-provoking occasion. Sermons were taught on numerous topics but always took their starting point native what is referred to as the ‘text" or ‘theme", in the form of a short statement indigenous the Bible.

The message of the Pardoner"s sermon

The Pardoner"s favourite template — the message he constantly used in ~ the begin of his very own sermons - to be ‘money is the root of all angry (love of)". This comes from Paul"s letter to a younger Christian leader, Timothy, in the brand-new Testament 1 Timothy 6:10.

Typical sermon facets in The Pardoner"s Prologue and also Tale

Chaucer provides familiar elements of modern-day sermons:

medieval preachers often had stories in your sermons, to highlight points. The Pardoner"s Tale can be viewed as a very long and elaborate version of the sort of story often included in a sermon These story were called exempla. The word method ‘examples" and also has this specialised an interpretation (tales portraying moral points) when used around sermon stories. The singular type is exemplum The Pardoner"s Prologue includes the statement the his practice is to include ‘ensamples many oon" — plenty of an exemplum — and also says this is because uneducated world love ‘tales olde" (437).

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The Pardoner"s Tale is favor an exemplum, despite much longer than the real ones were. The is a highly sophisticated version that the type of story that sermons offered as illustrations of Christian truths. Here, that is teaching about the spiritual and moral threats of avarice, conveying ethical lessons in an funny way. The is a fable-like illustration of:

The idea the love the money is the root of all angry (here, resulting in triple murder) The more comprehensive truth the being took in in materialism together an perspective to life is in reality a type of death.