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Notes on the Pardoner's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer
From York Notes (and some personal thoughts)

CHARACTERISATION

The old man is the first and only person the three men meet. He speaks humbly and
simply but with a wisdom tinged with an air of mystery and melancholy. He is the only…

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They shul be shrined in an hogges toord!'

THEMES

Deception is present on many levels in the Pardoner's Tale:
The first element of deception could be considered the tale itself: the pardoner
never says whether the tale is true or not
The pardoner's life is based on deceiving people into…

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Many of the relics the Pardoner mentions being in his bag `ycrammed ful of
cloutes and of bones' are physically unpleasant, and are the residue of physical
decay, bones and rags. This focus on physical decay reflects the moral and
spiritual corruption of the Pardoner
This focus on corruption increases…

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John Wyclif (132084) was condemned as a heretic in 1376 when he made his
treatise `De Dominio Devine' which claimed that all authority was founded on
grace, and that wicked kings, popes and priests therefore should not hold power.
As a philosopher and widelyread man, he would have moved in…

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Death
In the time of literalism when Chaucer was alive, Death personified was real for
many people. When people literally believed in the physical presence of a
heaven, hell, and angels etc., `Death' as a thief stealing the souls of men was a
very real fear. This can be seen…

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The sudden digression from the Tale to sermonising, can be read as a device to
create anticipation amongst the listeners.
Not until line 374 does the story begin: a short, brilliantly focused moral story
illustrating the claim that money is the root of all evil.
Both the Pardoner's Prologue and…

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