Throughout literature, relationships can often be found between the author of a story andthe story that he writes, whether intentional or not.
In Geoffrey Chaucer’s story,Canterbury Tales, many of the characters on the pilgrimage make this statement evidentwith the tales that they tell. Such a distinct relationship can be made between thecharacter of the Pardoner and the tale that he tells.Through the Prologue to the Pardoner’s tale, the character of the Pardoner isrevealed. Although the Pardoner displays many important traits, the most prevalent is hisgreed. Throughout the prologue, the Pardoner displays his greed and even admits that theonly thing he cares about is money: “I preach nothing except for gain” (“Pardoner’s Tale”,Line 105).
This avarice is seen strongly in the Pardoner’s tale as well. In the Pardoner’stale, three friends begin a journey in order to murder Death. On their journey, though, anold man leads them to a great deal of treasure. At this point, all three of the friends in thetale display a greed similar to the Pardoner’s.
The three friends decide that someoneshould bring bread and wine for a celebration. As the youngest of the friends leaves to gobuy wine, the other two greedily plot to kill him so they can split the treasure only twoways. Even the youngest decides to “put it in his mind to buy poison / With which hemight kill his two companions” (383, 384). The greed, which is evident in the characterof the Pardoner, is also clearly seen in the tale.Another trait that is displayed by the Pardoner and a character in his tale ishypocrisy. Although the Pardoner is extremely greedy, he continues to try and teach that”Avarice is the root of all evil” (6). He explains to the pilgrims how money is the root ofall evil, and then he takes the money from them in exchange for forgiveness of their sins.
This action could be seen in two ways. Perhaps the Pardoner is a very greedy, trecherousman, or perhaps Chaucer is trying to jab at Christianity by alluding to Christ. Thecharacters in his tale display great hypocrisy as well. As the tale begins, the friends all actvery trustworthy and faithful towards all of their friends.
They nobly make a decision torisk their lives while trying to slay their friend’s murderer. As they talk about theirchallenge, they pledge “to live and die each of them for the other, / As if he were his ownblood brother” (241-242). At the end of the tale, the “brothers” begin to reveal their truenature. They all turn on each other in an attempt to steal the treasure for themselves.
Allof the loyalty, which they had pledged, was simply a lie and no faithfulness remained.While the two older “brother” plotted to kill the younger, the younger “brother” plotted”to kill them both and never to repent” (388). Thus, these so-called faithful “brothers”display their true ruthlessness and reveal their hypocrisy in relation to the Pardoner’scharacter.The characters in the “Pardoner’s Tale” match the unctuous nature of the Pardonerin a great deal of ways. All of these traits and ideas that are seen in both the Pardoner andthe tale that he tells show a strong relationship in the two.
Chaucer used this technique inall of the tales that are recorded in Canterbury Tales. This technique gives a greaterinsight into the mind of the teller. By analyzing the tales, it is possible to learn muchabout the teller of the tale. Using this method, Chaucer focuses on the characteristics ofeach of the people involved in Canterbury Tales, but also keeps the poem interesting.