“The story of the rioters and Death offers us an image of a society without mutual trust, faith or truth.
” How helpful do you find this comment to your understanding of the Pardoner’s Prologue and tale of the context which Chaucer sets it. (30) The Pardoner’s prologue and tale is based on dishonesty and sin. The Pardoner himself, is untrustworthy, and openly admits that everything he says in his sermon is a lie- “Ande telle an hundred false japes moore.
” Thus we know the pardoner does not believe in what he is preaching, despite him pretending to be the man of the Church.
He preaches against the very thing that he is making a living from- “The love of money is the root of all evil. ” This therefore exemplifies that the only reason for doing what he does is for money and not through faith, which was not uncommon for the Middle Ages. Thus the statement above exemplifies the lengths the pardoner is willing to go through to gain wealth, and thus clearly demonstrates that he is dominated by greed and not mutual trust, faith or truth. It is important to recognise the status of pardoners in the Middle Ages.
The Catholic Church had a lot of importance in the Middle Ages, this therefore meant that Pardoners had a lot of influence over the general population, a long with other members of the church. Pardoners allowed people to buy forgiveness for their sins, which they had committed, so that they could miss out on purgatory.
The Pardoner’s audience would normally be peasant type people who would not have had much experience of life outside of their local areas and thus they believed everything he told them.
This is significant because this gave the Pardoner much of his power and authority to lure people into giving him money. This therefore reflects a society who are misplacing their trust in someone who seems to be religious and trustworthy. Therefore it can be seen that the Pardoner on his own, represents a society lacking trust, faith and truth. We can see that the story of the rioters and Death also clearly demonstrates this avarice and the rioters themselves personify mistrust and dishonesty.
Chaucer leaves the rioters nameless, so that they can represent wicked mankind. From the very beginning of the tale they involve themselves in sinful and irresponsible behaviour. They start with gluttony, and go on to gamble, insult an old man, blaspheme, lie, cheat and then kill. The three rioters therefore demonstrate what the development of sin does to man. This indicates that they are not good Christians and thus they misuse their faith.
For example when the three rioters find the gold they should report it to the authorities, however they fail to do this and instead immediately decide to commit the criminal act, by taking it as their own. In this way, Chaucer is equating money to crime and deception, which relates to his anecdote- “money is the root of all evil. ” Here Chaucer is pointing out the many inherent flaws in human nature. One can fail to realise the truth in this timeless statement, because we can see it exemplifies clearly the consequences of the rioters who end up killing each other due to their overpowering greed and lust for money.
The fact that the tale is a moral one could in fact suggest that the society Chaucer lived did have mutual trust, faith or truth. However as the teller (the pardoner), is untouched by it, and his sole motivation was not for love (a desire to save them from their sins) but vice (a desire to make them anxious so that they give him much money), one has to ask the question whether a deed can be termed as a “good action” when it is told by a shameless scoundrel for entirely selfish and indeed evil intentions.