Characterisation of the Pilgrims in The Pardoner's Tale

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  • Created by: Jess
  • Created on: 30-04-13 10:35

The Host

  • The 'Hooste' or 'hoost' is a lively & human figure in this otherwise quite dark and gothic tale.
  • He appears in The Introduction to the Pardoner's Tale, touched by the tragedy of the story they have just heard, The Physician's Tale.
  • We might regard him as being easily moved to shows of sentimentality.
  • He invites the Pardoner to tell a merry Tale to cheer everyone up. He calls the Pardoner a "thou beel ami" (a good friend).
  • This is characteristic of the Host's good nature. It is his offer of a free dinner for the best Tale told on the journey that is underlying the whole idea of The Canterbury Tales.


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The Host

  • The Host has a temper, though his outbursts are usually short-lived.
  • He reveals this when he is invited to be the first to open his purse and buy a worthless pardon.
  • The Host says he would like to pull the Pardoner's testicles off and enshirene them in a hog's turd!
  • The Pardoner has suggested that the Host, of all the pilgrims, is "moost envoluped in sinne".
  • The Host may have a temper, and work in a trade that could be seen as promoting drunkenness, but the overall impression we get from his appearances throughout the Tale is of a man who is both amiable and easily moved by the stories the pilgrims tell.
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The Pilgrims

  • It would be fair to sum up the pilgrims' attitude towards the Pardoner as cool at best, confrontational (in the case of the Host) at worst.
  • As ever in the Tales, they appear a fairly tolerant and accepting group of people.
  • Given they are on a pilgrimage (albeit not a very arduous one), they don't exhibit any adverse reaction to what they have heard from the Pardoner.
  • It is hard to see how they feel towards the Pardoner because Chaucer does not generally include responses from individual pilgrims to various Tales.
  • Apart from the Host, no one actually attacks the Pardoner for attempting to sell them Pardons.
  • Equally, no one offers any line of defence to support him doing what, in historical fact, pardoners did.
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The Pilgrims

  • Prompted by the Host's outraged insults, they laugh at the Pardoner.
  • The Knight only intervenes to speparate the Host and the Pardoner for the general good of the company and to get their journey underway again, not to protect the Pardoner himself.
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