The Pardoner in The Pardoner's tale

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His behaviour and appearance are introduced. A character who is questionable in many ways - sexually, physically, religiously. 

  • “The summoner bar to him a stif burdoun.” (line 675) The summoner sang the pardoner a love song. 
  • Suggests homosexual relationship - a sin in the eyes of the church. 
  • Grotesque image of pardoner and his lover. 
  • His voice is like a “goot” / ‘goat’ (line 690) - questioning his sexuality and manhood again.
  • “A gelding or a mare.” (line 693) A horse that has been castrated - not a ‘manly man’ or a woman - ******: neither man nor woman: liminal state.
  • Physical deformity makes him less than a man - inability to father children: spiritually and physically empty.
  • “By ounces henge his lokkes.” (line 679) Long hair was forbidden to clerics so either he is not official (collecting money for his own benefit) or he doesn't abide by church rules. Dry, dishevelled and lifeless hair.
  • Rejects religion - extra contrast and juxtaposition to holy man: not a “noble eclisiast” (line 710) as he should be. 
  • Not traits of a man who is focused on religion; selfish, untrustworthy - ironically, not doing “cristes hooly werk.” (line 54).
  • Has a ‘vernicle’ (line 687) - medal suggests he’s made a pilgrimage to Rome: papal support - shows papal documents but likely to have been forged. Train to prove his legitimacy. 
  • His relics give him credibility but its hard to prove or disprove that he actually has them: e.g/ “Oure Lady Veil.” (line 697) - Mary’s pillowcase. He states that he can get more money in a day with his relics than a poor person can in 2 months.
  • He had a “crois of latoun” (line 701) brass cross, but looks like gold. Deceptive - like him.
  • Says he has a “hooly bulle” (line 623) - official papal document and PUN  as in Old Testament they used to worship golden calf as a symbol. Dual meaning; worship physical things and not God, against 10 commandments by worshipping false idols. 
  • “His craft.” (line 694) - works at his tales, builds and crafts them, but all he wants is…


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