This is my summary of “The Pardoner’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer.
“What matters the most? – Money or Integrity/Sentiments/Human bonds?”
The Pardoner’s Tale
“The Pardoner’s Tale” is actually a tale within a tale by a pardoner. A pardoner is someone who offers indulgences of sins to the sin committed ones for money. The pardoner, who possesses documents that he had received from the pope and high ranked church officials so that people around will show some respect to him, takes out his relics with a bone in them telling that if someone sticks his/her hand in the mitten, his/her crops will grow very well. However, he also warns to the ones with any sin, saying that they shall not be benefitted by his relics. The Pardoner tells to the pilgrims that this is the way he sums of big money. He says that everybody in the world is driven by the desire of money; including a clergy at the pulpit, who promises to free one from sins, but in exchange for some money. The truth is that the disappearance of the sin is not he is interested in; it’s the money that he craves for. Moreover, anyone who talks against a clergy or himself, they put a sin on them. The pardoner says that he preaches against immoral habit possessors, but it’s the money, whether from the rich of the poor that he is after at the end of the day; the sellout purpose of his job doesn’t matter to him. After saying all this, the pardoner, contradicting his immoral nature, begins a moral story.
The Pardoner’s story begins with three Flemish carefree people, who drink a lot, gamble a lot and are extremely driven by the lust of women. He then depicts the consequences of vices (bad habits) of getting drunk, gambling, swearing and gluttony (over eating). The pardoner resumes his story then where these three are sitting, enjoying their drink and a lady before hearing a funeral knells. A servant explains the knell by saying them about an old friend of theirs who was slain that night by a mysterious figure/thief, the Death. The boy also tells that the village is now under his control. The three rioters then become furious and in an attempt to avenge their friend, decide to kill Death.
They walk many roads before coming across an old sad man who was saddened because he the Death wouldn’t let him die. One of the three men asked him where this Death is, to which the old man points to an oak tree nearby a grove. They rushed to the tree where to their delight; they find many coins of gold. There were so excited that they forgot about killing Death.
They decide to take the treasure under the dark moon and in the meantime, two of them would guard it while the third one would go to town to get some food.
However, three men who were supposedly friends become selfish and greed start running through their veins. They wanted the gold for themselves.
The youngest of the all, who went to get the food/ drink thought of getting it all for himself, so in his plan to take the other two out of his way, he finds rat poison and mixes it with wine to feed them after getting back to the woods. On the other hand, when the third guy left for food, the two “guards” came up with an idea to kill him to obtain half of the treasure each.
Finally the third guy returned with a bottle of wine. He was greeted by “his targets” by numerous stabbings into his body. Dead, he falls down. The two, unaware of their now dead companion’s ill motive, then drink the wine, the poisoned wine. They too, become lifeless.
After telling this tale of his, the Pardoner then invites the listeners to offer his relics some offerings to receive forgiveness of sins. Nobody from the host agrees; they are outraged and start leaving; the Knight calms everybody down and makes Pardoner and the host kiss. They all then continue their journey in a fresh and positive mindset in the end.
Moral from the “The Pardoner’s Tale”
One distinct moral from the tale is “root of all evil is money.” The three men desire more wealth and as a result, come up with an evil plan, becoming evil themselves. I agree with this moral.
In real life too, between close friends, between brothers, or between partners, when thought of money starts consuming them, they forget about the sacred bond of relationship. They begin to come up with plans, plans that will make them rich and they will put those plans ahead of other people, even close ones. This is generally an “evil” and an immoral act.
Another moral from the tale could be “Honesty is the best policy.” In the tale, Pardoner is honest while presenting his self-image. No matter how corrupt and money minded he is, he tells it. He doesn’t try to hide this true identity of his from the others. He is simply being honest.
Displaying honesty was, is and will always be very important and an ethical thing in our world. Honesty is hard to find in this money minded world of ours. So, the mass tends to appreciate and admire honest people in general. When someone does wrong but ends up being honest about it, there is this principle of forgiving that person despite his/her ill acts. In the story too, pardoner earns money in an unethical way but he is honest about it as a result of which, he is not disrespected, especially by the knight who calms the host.
Even in tennis, there are many players who win a point in a wrong way: striking after double bounce, calling shots that are in, “Out.” They do get the point but when we, the audience, the world sees the shot in the replay mode; it becomes clear that he is not being honest. As a result, no matter his result, he ends up losing many people’s respect.