The Role Of Greed In Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

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The Pardoner, from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, is the world’s most obvious and shameless hypocrite. He spent his entire life preaching that the love of money is the root of all evil, and even tells a tale of three men whose greed for money leads to their own demise. Despite knowing this, the Pardoner himself admits that he only preaches for money and goods. The irony of his tale has to do with the fact that he promotes an idea or moral, which his very own livelihood contradicts.
In the Pardoner’s tale, three men had pledged to defend each other in their quest to kill Death. The three riots swore “to live and die for one” (Line 100). However, after they find a pile of gold coins, they quickly forget about their original goal, and the desire for even more wealth causes them to betray each other. In a way, greed was portrayed almost like a contagious disease, which can turn even good men to evil. The three men, who were one willing to sacrifice their
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Exemplifying the corruption of the church in his time period, the Pardoner does not grant pardons based on merit or out of charity. Instead, he will only grant pardons upon the receipt of some sort of payment like “sterling, rings, or silver brooches” (Line 303). In addition, he made no effort to hide his own sin. Instead, he proudly proclaimed that he wanted more “money, wool and cheese and wheat” from even the poorest peasant. Clearly, the Pardoner is guilty of the same sin he preaches against, but the fact that he passionately preaches against this sin is even more ironic. In a way, his belief in two different contradictory ideas is kind of similar to the concept of “doublethink” from George Orwell’s 1984, which involves believing in two contradictory ideas at the same time. If the Pardoner believed his own tale, he would realize that his own greed would lead him to his own
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