Greed And Hypocrisy In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

Good Essays
In the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer utilizes the immoral character of the Pardoner to tell the utmost moral tale through satirical devices, presenting the true greed and hypocrisy that runs throughout the Church, regardless of it attempt to cover it. Chaucer introduces the hypocrisy within the Church through the characterization of the Pardoner, as he is explained to be a man with, “flattery and equal japes./He made the parson and the rest his apes” (“General Prologue” 607-608). “Japes” are tricks, alluding to the Pardoner’s relics, as they are fake; yet, the Pardoner still sells these relics to the Church members as genuine treasures. This creates dramatic irony, because the character of the Church body is unaware of the situation bestowed…show more content…
Calling the Church body “his apes” exemplifies the opinion Chaucer holds about the Church, as he believes they are like monkeys, blindly following others, unaware of their own stupidity. In terms of blindly following, the double entendre of the word “apes” comes into play, as it is defined as “imitating another person”. The members of the Church blindly imitate what they see in the Church, leading to a society of corrupted followers. Chaucer continues to present the hypocrisy prevalent in the Church through the character of the Pardoner, as he preaches, “For my intent is only pence to win,” (“Pardoner’s Prologue” 117). Through these lines, the audience receives their first image of the Pardoner’s satirical hypocrisy as, in his sermons, he preaches against greed while, at the same time, uses the guilt of his audience to feed his own. His preaching include encouraging the members of the Church to be giving with their money and make donations. This action would not seem hypocritical at all to those unaware of the fraud that occurs behind the…show more content…
At the very beginning of the Pardoner’s tale, through one of his sermons, we are told his, “theme is alwey oon, and ever was—/“Radix malorum est Cupiditas” (“Pardoner’s” Tale 5-6). This statement provides an aura of satire, as the Pardoner solely speaks against the practice of greed, as on the side he ironically practices exactly what he preaches against. Continuing on, the Pardoner, himself, clearly states the greedy motives his drive depends upon as he informs us that for his, “intent is only pence to win,/ And not at all for punishment of sin” (“Pardoner’s Prologue” 117-118). The Pardoner states his “only” intent is to win “pence” or profit. He does not take the measure to simply admit to additionally wanting money, rather, exploits his sole desire for wealth and fortune. This creates a situation of verbal irony, as his job consists of his preaching against greed driven by his own greed. Finally, Chaucer exemplifies the true greedy persona the Church withholds through the voice of the Pardoner stating he, “will preach and beg in sundry lands;/ I will not work and labour with my hands” (“Pardoner’s Prologue” 157-158). In case the audience was not already in light of the mask the church hides behind, the pardoner proves once his true greediness. He states that he will not “work and labour” with his hands as the apostles did, who wove baskets
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