The Pardoner's Tale l.631-657: Selling relics and pardons

Synopsis of l.631-657: Selling relics and pardons

The Pardoner now attempts to get the pilgrims to pay for his bogus relics and pardons. He tells them they are lucky to have the chance to save their souls by purchasing a pardon from him, given that they could easily die from an accident on the journey. He then encourages the Host to start the process by kissing relics, since he is the most sinful (and it is likely that others will follow his lead).

Commentary on l.631-657: Selling relics and pardons

l.631 tale: can mean 'talking, speech'

l.632 male: bag (that's why the Royal Mail is called that: originally big saddle bags on horses' backs carried letters)

l.634 the popes hond: claiming that he has received permission to issue pardons from the Pope himself makes the Pardoner's offer seem all the more impressive

l.636 absolucioun: to absolve sins means to declare, as God's representative, that sins are forgiven

l.641-2 so that ye: as long as you. Once more he repeats the claim that paying the money will cleanse away all sins:

  • It is ironic that the money is described as ‘goode and trewe', given that it lies at the centre of the medieval church's terrible abuse of the doctrine of penitence and grace.

l.648 atwo: in two. The Pardoner plays on fears of misfortunes that can befall travellers. He is almost offering travel insurance—against dying suddenly in a state of sin!

l.651 bothe moore and lasse: higher and lower (i.e. in social standing)

l.657 grote: a silver coin worth 4 pence

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