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
More on masculinity
More on masculinity:
What is masculinity?
Though a person's gender is a matter of biology, making people either female or male, there are also ways of behaving that are thought of as being feminine or masculine. These can be culture-specific: in Soviet Russia being an engineer was often assumed to be a feminine role; in twelfth-century literature, men often swoon/faint when feeling strong emotions (behaviour more commonly associated with females) and this is seen particularly as a sign of a truly noble knight. Of course, many ‘masculine' traits may also have roots in biology: i.e. they may be ‘male' as well. Nevertheless, the cultural restraints on - or encouragement of - various impulses, shift from period to period.
In the Middle Ages, it was undoubtedly assumed that men would be more dominating than women. In general, ‘masculine' traits in medieval literature include:
- Aggression (culturally controlled, of course, in various directions)
- Desire to control
- Rivalry with other men
- Physical strength
- Boldness and courage
- Sexual appetites.
Medieval society in general seems to have been relatively uninterested in homosexuality, though homosexual sex—like many other acts, including any form of contraception—was regarded as a sin. However, Chaucer presents the Pardoner as being effeminate, as being not completely male.
A matter of life and death
One critical approach is to see Chaucer making a parallel between the idea (in the General Prologue portrait of him) that the Pardoner lacks a fully masculine body, and the theme of death in his Prologue and Tale:
- His body is one that will not produce fruit or engender new life. He is likened to a ‘gelding' and a ‘mare'
- His wicked practices deny Christian fruitfulness and deprive people of eternal life.
Such a parallel is perhaps there as an underlying hint or resonance for the reader, not a heavy-handed ‘message'.
The unmasculine Pardoner and the hyper-masculine Host are two characters who illustrate Chaucer's interest in presenting a range of attitudes towards masculinity (in other parts of The Tales it could equally be said that he explores different aspects of femininity).
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