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Canterbury Tales Essay

1566 words - 7 pages

Historically, pilgrimages have been taken as a religious experience, where people pay homage to God. As the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales go to Canterbury to view the shrine of St. Thomas Becket, the pilgrims are asked to tell moral stories as a means of passing time. As the individuals tell these tales, they reveal their duplicitous nature that are embedded within these tales. The Pardoner reveals his paradoxical nature: someone who wants to appear as a religious, virtuous man, when, in actuality, he deceives the community into thinking that he has good intentions of helping others. The Wife of Bath, unashamed of her power and sexuality, is greedy and scorns the Knight, a character in The Wife of Bath’s Tale for discretions she is guilty of. The Pardoner and the Wife of Bath are deceitful to the people in their community, simultaneously and wholeheartedly exposing their own deceptive ways as they accompany pilgrims on the pilgrimage. Because the Pardoner and the Wife of Bath unabashedly portray themselves as amoral, while they boast about their indiscretions, they do not have to take accountability for their actions.
While not living by his principles and preaching to others a spiritual and moral life, the Pardoner shows his hypocrisy. He tells a story of three young, gluttonous men, who reveal greed, while finding treasures behind a tree. Overcome by drunkenness, they act in a senseless and impulsive manner: “... up they started drunken in this rage” (2317) to avenge the death of their friend. They find gold in their pursuit of looking for “Death,” who has killed their friend. Regardless of the men pledging “[t]o live and die each of them for the other, / As if he were his very own blood brother” (2315-6), they deviously plot to outwit and kill one another, in order to acquire the gold coins for themselves. The Pardoner reveals that the greed of the three young men has resulted in their death. He preaches the Latin phrase, “ ‘Radix malorum est cupiditas’ meaning greed is the root of all evil” (1941). The Pardoner speaks of their sins, which does not eliminate their actions. By doing so, the Pardoner does not alleviate his own actions.
Apparently, it is the Pardoner, who is also greedy but not fearful of what will happen to him. The Pardoner knows that he takes advantage of people, and yet openly divulges his own hypocrisy and covetousness. He is a representative of the Church,who has been appointed to forgive people for their sins. In contrast, his outwardly appearance of holiness is a contradiction as to how he should be and the way he conducts himself. Because he feels separated from the characters in the story, the Pardoner is not fearful that his greed will result in death as he states, “[f]or vulgar people all love stories old” (2044). Consequently, the Pardoner implies that he is above the people he preaches to, because they are indecent. Although the Pardoner acknowledges his own greed, he does not consider...

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529 words - 2 pages Running Head: CANTERBURYCanterbury[Writer Name][Institute Name]CanterburyIntroductionGeoffrey ChaucerGeoffrey Chaucer first main work was "The Book of the Duchess", His other works include "Parlement of Foules", "Troilus and Criseyde" and "The Legend of good Women". He began his most popular and fame work in 1387 "The Canterbury Tales" in which to pass the time on pilgrimage a various group of people recount stories to Canterbury (Crampton, 2006

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