Faustus Essay, Research Paper

Throughout literature, relationships can often be found between

the author of a story and the story that he writes. In Geoffrey

Chaucer’s frame story, Canterbury Tales, many of the characters

make this idea evident with the tales that they tell. A distinct

relationship can be made between the character of the Pardoner and

the tale that he tells.

Through the Prologue to the Pardoner’s tale, the character of the

Pardoner is revealed. Although the Pardoner displays many

important traits, the most prevalent is his greed. Throughout the

prologue, the Pardoner displays his greed and even admits that the

only thing he cares about is money: “I preach nothing except for

gain” (”Pardoner’s Tale”, Line 105). This avarice is seen

strongly in the Pardoner’s tale as well. In the Pardoner’s tale,

three friends begin a journey in order to murder Death. On their

journey, though, an old man leads them to a great deal of

treasure. At this point, all three of the friends in the tale

display a greed similar to the Pardoner’s. The three friends

decide that someone should bring bread and wine for a

celebration. As the youngest of the friends leaves to go buy

wine, the other two greedily plot to kill him so they can split

the treasure only two ways. Even the youngest decides to “put it

in his mind to buy poison / With which he might kill his two

companions” (383, 384). The greed, which is evident in the

character of the Pardoner, is also clearly seen in the tale.

Another trait that is displayed by the Pardoner and a character in

his tale is hypocrisy. Although the Pardoner is extremely

greedy, he continues to try and teach that “Avarice is the root of

all evil” (6). The characters in his tale display great hypocrisy

as well. As the tale begins, the friends all act very trustworthy

and faithful towards all of their friends. They nobly make a

decision to risk their lives while trying to slay their friend’s

murderer. As they talk about their challenge, they pledge “to

live and die each of them for the other, / As if he were his own

blood brother” (241-242). At the end of the tale, the “brothers”

begin to reveal their true nature. They all turn on each other in

an attempt to steal the treasure for themselves. All of the

loyalty, which they had pledged, was simply a lie and no

faithfulness remained. While the two older “brother” plotted to

kill the younger, the younger “brother” plotted “to kill them both

and never to repent” (388). Thus, these so-called faithful

“brothers” display their true ruthlessness and reveal their

hypocrisy in relation to the Pardoner’s character.

The characters in the “Pardoner’s Tale” match the unctuous nature

of the Pardoner in a great deal of ways. All of these traits and

ideas that are seen in both the Pardoner and the tale that he

tells show a strong relationship in the two. Chaucer used this

technique in all of the tales that are recorded in Canterbury

Tales. This technique gives a greater insight into the mind of

the teller. By analyzing the tales, it is possible to learn much

about the teller of the tale. Using this method, Chaucer focuses

on the characteristics of each of the people involved in

Canterbury Tales, but also keeps the poem interesting.

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