Homophobia In The Pardoner's Tale

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In his 1994 paper, Claiming the Pardoner: Toward a Gay Reading of Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale, Steven F. Kruger begins with an intriguing reference to Allen Barnett's 1990 short-story Philostorgy, Now Obscure. Barnett, according to Kruger, understands the Pardoner to be "a voice that might angrily challenge or campily subvert the legacies of homophobia" (Barnett 118). Kruger, however, is skeptical of such an interpretation of the Pardoner, because of the homophobic way in which Chaucer wrote him. Thus, Kruger is concerned that if the Pardoner is "claimed", the modern gay community might involve themselves in this bigotry. In order to define the Pardoner's position in gay history and grasp Chaucer's intentions with this character, Kruger aims to understand medieval homophobia and homosexuality. Through his study of homophobic trends and the Pardoner's character and tale, Kruger does not aim to prove the Pardoner's homosexuality or necessarily "claim" him, but nonetheless views the possibility of a gay Pardoner to be…show more content…
For instance, it is one of the only tales that revolves around men. There is mentioning of women, but as Kruger explains it, "... women are evoked only to be excluded" (129). The absence of women suggests infertility, and thus, projects literary barrenness. Moreover, Kruger believes that the relationship between the three men is a parody of the sworn brotherhood and heterosexual love triangles found in the Knight's Tale, which also disturbs the heterosexual model of writing. Chaucer, with this tale, intended to show the dangers of the attachment to the physical and the disregard for spiritual, allegorical interpretation. Indeed, the men meet their demise because they were unable to perceive Death as an abstract being, not a corporal one. Furthermore, Kruger suggests that the murderous penetration that occurs along with the use of sexual language alludes to the dangers of

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