The Prologue to the Pardoner’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer


The Pardoner is portrayed in this prologue as a man who lives on double talk and has mastered the office of priesthood to make real his intentions of hoodwinking and possibly take advantage of his unsuspecting subjects. He shows off his priesthood certificates and licenses while adding spice to his sermon through some Latin words to make the audience believe that he is really a true man of God. He postulates that his theme is and will always be “’Radix malorumest cupiditas (1941).” This in roman means that the love of money is the beginning of all evils. This is paradoxical in nature for he himself will only be able to make his sales if he meets people who love money. As a matter of fact he technically targets the rich in his sales to make more money.

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By constantly announcing that he cannot do anything for the worst sinners, he makes invitations for those he believes are good to purchase his relics in order to be cleansed of their sins. He mastered this method in a bid to inspire his congregation and make them be devoted to him. While on the pulpit, he severely warns people about the avarice sin in an effort to ensure that the congregation is intimidated into donating a lot of money for his selfish cause. By repeatedly asserting that money is the beginning of all evil, he denounces what he himself has perfected: greed. The prologue thus indicates that the Pardoner himself is well aware of his own sins. He openly confesses that as much as he is given to preaching against many vices, he engages in many sins. He asserts that he is a hoax motivated by money and greed.

He openly indicates that he loves fine living, money, and good food. Unfortunately, he uses uncivilized means tactics to get this money. For instance, he goes on to portray his fake relics by lying to the congregation that he has the shoulder bone of Jacob’s sheep that can be used to cure sick cows as well as jealousy. By openly providing a cure for unfaithfulness, it means that he preaches water and takes wine. This is confirmed when he further postulates that no man is perfect. As much as he is a hypocrite, he is sensible enough to confess to it. This makes him a very complex character.


The Wife of Bath

The central theme of the Wife of Ball Tale is to find the underlying cause of what women desire. “I will tell truths of husbands that I have had (10).” This story is told to portray a rational idea; for instance, upon marrying five men, she was not able to control them except the fifth one, and they lived a happy life even though she kept on nagging them mercilessly. This means that what women really desire in marriage is being in control of their husbands as illustrated by her narration of how she tried but failed to control her five husbands only managing, a little bit late, to control her fifth husband a clerk called Jankyn.

The wife of Bath justifies her getting married to five men as a result of her following the route of experience instead of authority. She believes that she has enough experience to be an expert since she has gotten married in church five times. She also believes in the Biblical command that people should go ahead and multiply and thus does not understand why the biblical woman who was found at the well by Jesus was rebuked for having five husbands. Being knowledgeable of the scriptures, she challenges people to substantiate where virginity is commanded in the Bible. She gives evidence of King Solomon who had many wives and the advice of St. Paul that it is prudent to marry than to burn in an effort to defend her arguments. She also affirms that sexual organs were created not only for functional reasons but also for pleasure.

In the funeral of her fourth husband, she was unable to keep her eyes off Jankyn, a young clerk. After their honeymoon, she was irritated when she realized that the clerk spent all his time reading a particular niche of books that belittled women. In one night, Jankyn started reading loudly from one of his collections that looked down upon women. He started with Eve’s story, then all unfaithful women, prostitutes, and many other stereotypes. Having had enough of this, the wife of Bath snatched the book and smacked the clerk so hard that he rolled over into the fire. He stood up and hit her. She fell down and in pretence portrayed that she was dead. The clerk swore he would never touch her again if she woke up, and this is how she managed to control her fifth husband.

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