The Pardoner's Tale - l.518-562: Two conspiracies
Synopsis of l. 518-562: Two conspiracies
Once the youngest has left, the other two youths decide that they will each get more if the money is only divided between two. They plot to stab the other youth on his return, under the guise of a friendly scuffle. Meanwhile, as the youngest walks towards the town, he starts to covet all the money for himself, so decides to kill the other two youths by poisoning them. Much of the pace of the passage is created by the intense direct speech of the protagonists
Commentary on l. 518-562: Two conspiracies
l.524 departed: divided
l.527 torn: turn
l.528 noot: I don't know
l.529 woot: knows
l.531 conseil: counsel, but here used for a shared secret
shrewe: rogue, criminal
l.534 I graunte … out of doute: I agree… no doubts about it
l.540 rive: cut
l.549 which that: who
l.545 our lustes al fulfille: the focus of fulfilling personal worldly desires would be seen as sinful by Chaucer's audience. See Religious / philosophical context > Medieval attitudes to poverty and wealth
l.554-5 no man … God: ‘nobody in the world'. According to Christianity, everybody on earth is subject to the rule of the God who created the world
l.556 The feend our enemy: the Devil or Satan, who the Bible states is the enemy of God and therefore of the human race he has created. The devil has so corrupted the youngest rioter that he decides to kill both his colleagues and never to repent:
- According to the Bible, even a murderer may turn back to God and be forgiven. In deciding not to repent, the youth puts himself beyond the chance of being saved when facing judgement.
l.559-60 ‘Because the devil found him in such a way of life that he had permission [i.e. from God] to bring him to everlasting sorrow.' Chaucer's audience would recognise an echo of Job 2:1-6, an Old Testament image of how God allowed the devil to test / prove the virtue of believers.
Here, the suggestion is that the rioter is so decided on his sinful plan that there is no opportunity for God to reach him to change his mind. As a consequence, there is nothing to stop the malign influence of the devil. The church taught that humans have free will and may therefore decide whether to love and obey God or not.
Investigating l.518-562: Two conspiracies
- my sworen brother: what is the effect, in the context of the rioters' dialogue, of this phrase in l.520?
- Consider further felawe (522), freendes (527) and My deere freend (544)?
- What is the effect of the repetition of the ‘thou' forms of the personal pronoun at the start of this dialogue?
- What's the effect on the reader of the particular phrase that Chaucer chooses in l.554-5 for ‘anywhere in the world'?
- How does Chaucer's wording suggest spiritual forces above and beyond the sordid actions and thoughts of the youths?
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2And the Lord said to Satan, From where have you come? Satan answered the Lord and said, From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it. 3And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason. 4Then Satan answered the Lord and said, Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face. 6And the Lord said to Satan, Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life. 7So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. 9Then his wife said to him, Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die. 10But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips. 11Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. 12And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.
1Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. 2And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 3And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. 4And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. 5But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. 6And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. 7So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. 8And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. 9Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. 10But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. 11Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. 12And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. 13So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.
The 'protagonist' in Greek drama meant the chief contender, or main actor.
The beliefs, doctrines and practices of Christians.
The Bible describes God as the unique supreme being, creator and ruler of the universe.
Also known as Satan or Lucifer, the Bible depicts him as the chief of the fallen angels and demons, the arch enemy of God who mounts a significant, but ultimately futile, challenge to God's authority.
The devil; the term 'Satan' actually means 'Enemy' and is often used to refer to the force of evil in the world.
The Christian Bible consists of the Old Testament scriptures inherited from Judaism, together with the New Testament, drawn from writings produced from c.40-125CE, which describe the life of Jesus and the establishment of the Christian church.
The act of turning away, or turning around from, one's sins, which includes feeling genuinely sorry for them, asking for the forgiveness of God and being willing to live in a different way in the future.
A 'testament' is a covenant or binding agreement and is a term used in the Bible of God's relationship with his people). The sacred writings of Judaism (the Hebrew Bible). These also form the first part of the Christian Bible.