The Pardoner's Prologue and Tale Contents
- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- Literary context
- l.1-40: The link between The Physician's Tale and The Pardoner's Prologue
- The Pardoner's Prologue - l.41-100
- The Pardoner's Prologue - l.101-138
- The Pardoner's Prologue - l.139-174
- The Pardoner's Tale - l.175-194
- The Pardoner's Tale - l.195-209
- The Pardoner's Tale l.210-300: Gluttony and drunkenness
- The Pardoner's Tale l.301-372: Gambling and swearing
- The Pardoner's Tale l.373-422: The rioters hear of death
- The Pardoner's Tale l.423-479: The rioters meet an Old Man
- The Pardoner's Tale l.480-517: Money
- The Pardoner's Tale - l.518-562: Two conspiracies
- The Pardoner's Tale - l.563-606: Love of money leads to death
- The Pardoner's Tale l.607-630: Concluding the sermon
- The Pardoner's Tale l.631-657: Selling relics and pardons
- Final link passage l.658-680: Anger and reconciliation
The Pardoner's deceit
The Pardoner's outward show of holiness is entirely hypocritical. There is a cluster of words about deceit associated with him:
- He talks about the ‘gaude' or trick by which he dupes his hearers (l.101)
- He has no desire to ‘counterfete' or imitate the apostles (l.159)
- He enjoys his cunning and talks of ‘fals', ‘japes', ‘ypocrisye', ‘under hewe' (colour, often used at this period metaphorically to mean a pretence, something covering up a secret) l.101-38.
He is open about the fact that his claims of spiritual power are false claims, that:
- Anyone on his list will be admitted into heaven
- He can absolve people from their sins
- Paying him money is enough to cleanse away sin.
Deceit and the youths
The three youths are equally duplicitous. Despite hailing each other as ‘my sworen brother' (l.5200), ‘felawe' (522), ‘freendes' (527) and ‘My deere freend' (544), they plan to deceive, then kill, each other under the guise of a playful scuffle and celebratory drink. The youngest rioter readily fabricates the reason he requires poison from the chemist.
They seem to anticipate that others are equally deceitful. When the leading youth wants to know the occupant of the hearse, he demands of his servant boy:
After they hear the Old Man seeking to leave, the next youth accuses him of being Death's ‘espye … oon of his assent' and a ‘false theef' (l.467, 470-1), despite the note of authenticity in his account.
Scan and go
Scan on your mobile for direct link.