Character analysis in The Pardoner's Tale

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  • Characters in The Pardoner's Tale
    • The Pardoner
      • Occupation
        • Breaks moral and artistic conventions
          • Suggesting good deeds go unrewarded/bad deeds go unpunished
          • Pardoner is a rogue who gets away with his villainy and revels in what he does
        • Corrupt religious figure
          • Chaucer is implying criticism of the church
            • Suggests that the church creates characters that lack self-will/self-awareness to act in any other way
          • Adds novelty and shock
          • Can't tell whether he actually beiieves in God
            • If he does then his desire for a good life for himself is stronger than his religious convictions
            • If he doesn't then he is hypocritical, pretending to hold a belief he doesn't in order to defraud those who do
      • Sexual identity
        • Squeaky voice and absence of a beard - could be a eunuch, woman dressed as a man or homosexual
          • Church teaches against homosexuality
          • "A voys he hadde as small as hath a goot" "no berd hadde he"
    • The 3 rioters
      • Symbolic habitual sinners
        • Spend their days wickedly- eating, drinking, gambling, cursing and blaspheming
      • Never named and it is hard to distinguish between them
        • Implies that sin overrides personality
          • "the proudeste of thise riotoures" or "the yonsete" but never differentiated
        • "the proudeste of thise riotoures" or "the yonsete" but never differentiated
      • Speech & actions demonstrate sinful characteristic
        • Aggressive and threatening when speaking to old man
        • Plot behind a friends back - duplictious
        • Lack intelligence and insight as they cannot draw a link between old man's directions and money
      • Audience do not feel sympathetic towards them because they are villains
        • Glad they get what they deserve
        • Pleased that the plots do not work out as planned
    • The Old Man
      • First and only person the men meet
        • "Whan they han goon nat fully half a mile"
      • Old and "povre" and greets them "fully mekely"
      • Speaks simply and humbly but with wisdom, mystery and melancholy
      • Speculation of his existence - death? God? prophet? just and old man?
        • Death
          • Shows no fear of the rioters - if he is death personified he has no reason to fear
          • Has lived so long
          • may have hiddden powers to lend confidence
        • Could be immortal
          • "Ne Deeth, allas, ne wol nat han my lyf" - now not even death will take my life
          • Has been singled out as not being allowed to die or could be death himself
        • Supernatural
          • Has travelled as far as India to swap his age for youth
  • Cheats country parsons out of their money to fund a comfortable life for himself
    • Breaks moral and artistic conventions
      • Suggesting good deeds go unrewarded/bad deeds go unpunished
      • Pardoner is a rogue who gets away with his villainy and revels in what he does

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