Emma Day's Pardoner Presentation.

Pardoner’s Presentation: lns. 937-968

Passage shows the way in which the Pardoner’s intense narcissism threatens to corrupt and potentially destroy the tale telling contest as a whole.

-          self-involvement/ fixation with own profit established in the general prologue

-          used to receiving an offertory for a good story, but obviously does not profit from the tales (sermon-like structure of the tale asserts this), and decides to instead pedal his relics in order to make some sort of money

-          Two potential reasons for this: Pavlovian reaction or is in it for nothing but the money

Function of the Relics

-          Relics are sacred objects connected to religious figures (part of a saint’s tomb, for example)

-          Malo: Pardoner is a relic custodian (cares for remains of saints, guards, regulates and controls relics and access to them)

-          His relics are completely fake, and even though he’s already told the company this, his obsession with his own end leads him to attempt to pedal them anyway

-          His tale functions as a build up to the relics, a sort of introduction to his sales pitch fueled by both habit and greed

Sacredness of the tales in light of their corruption

-          Singles out Harry to kiss the relics first, but Harry essentially flips out

-          The tales are a way to build community, but introducing money into it corrupts that at a very base level

-          Burger: “Retort is ‘not just as hominem’ but ‘a revolt of proper language in the low style against the adulterous eloquence of the Pardoner when the host invokes his fear of Christ and the cross and then preforms his verbal surgery.’” (1143).

-          Host is intimately tied to the idea of the tales creating a community, to the rules that guide everyone’s enjoyment of them, so he sees the Pardoner’s corruption of those tales as a blatant disregard for their pure purpose

-          “This Pardoner answerde nat a word” (Chaucer 956): stunned into silence, perhaps seeing his mistake

Knight comes to make it all better

-          Knight is the most virtuous character in the Canterbury Tales, and is therefore the only one who can heal the wounds that have been inflicted

-          “As we diden, let us laugh and pleye” (967): this is not only a patching up, but a restoration, a return to what once was

-          The Pardoner and the Host do kiss and make up, but there has been a huge shift in the understanding of the function of the tales; is it possible to return to what once was? 

The Pardoner’s narcissism and focus on profit seems to almost corrupt the game, and even though the Pardoner and the Host do “kiss and make up,” the assumption of restoration to an earlier state provided by the Knight perhaps erases the necessity for the Pardoner to think about himself in a critical manner and learn to exist in the community the Pilgrims are attempting to create.

Burger, Glen.  “Kissing the Pardoner.”  PMLA 107.5 (1992): 1143-1156.  JSTOR.  7 April 2015. Web.

Malo, Robin.  “The Pardoner’s Relics (And Why they Matter Most).”  The Chaucer Review 43.1 (2008):

82-102.  JSTOR.  7 April 2015.  Web.

Merrix, Robert P.  “Sermon Structure in the Pardoner’s Tale.”  The Chaucer Review 17.3 (1983): 235-249. 

JSTOR.  7 April 2015.  Web.