The Pardoner’s Tale-Chacer’s Use of Irony to Criti

cize the ChNearly every aspect of the Pardoner’s tale is ironic. Irony exists within the story itself and in the relationship between thePardoner and the story. The ending of the story presents a goodmessage despite the Pardoner’s devious intentions to swindle moneyfrom the other pilgrims. By using irony in the Pardoner’s tale, Chaucer effectively criticizes the church system.

The irony begins as soon as the Pardoner starts his prologue.

He tells the other pilgrims that his sermons reflect how money is the root of all evils, “radix malorum est cupiditas.” He actuallypreaches against his own problems and sins. Pardoners who tookmoney in return for forgiveness were supposed to use the the money for charity, but he, like many other Pardoner’s in his time, used the money for his own satisfaction. He even admits to his greed. “And thus I preach against the very vice I make my living out ofavarice.”(p. 259) The Pardoner makes a mockery of the entire church by fabricating stories about his phony relics. Chaucershows how the Church is so corrupt, that even a Pardoner who admits to his evil ways, can still cheat the people out of theirmoney.

The Pardoner begins his story by condemning the common sins of society such as drinking and gluttony. The irony of his criticism lies in the fact that he has been drinking himself, andthat he is an admitted glutton. There are also many ironic elements of the stor itself. The rioters in his story, vow to setout and slay Death. In doing so, they promise to fight and die for each other. There are two ironies in their mission. First, Death is hardly a being that can be killed. Second, the threedrunken fighters pledge to die for each other, but in reality theykill each other.

Category: English

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