Medieval Literature & Culture Writing

The Pardoner is a man of sin. His job is to pardon the sins of others by selling Church indulgences, what we may call “pass jail cards” instead in the Pardoner’s case, “pass hell and purgatory” cards. The indulgence was the Church’s way of raising money, to either fund the building of churches or wars. In this instance, the Pardoner being a corrupt man with a corrupt occupation would also pocket the earnings that are supposed to belong to the Church. That is similar to the IRS man bagging the tax money instead of giving it the government.

The choice of the Pardoner’s tale itself is a satire against the Pilgrims. First, the Host by changing the focus of the Pilgrimage from a spiritual journey to Canterbury to one of winning a bet, the pilgrimage’s purpose has become that of money. The pardoner emphasizes this in his Prologue : “Therefore my theme is yet and ever was: “Radix malorum est cupiditas. /Thus can I preach against that same vice/Which that I use, and that is avarice. /But though myself be guilty in that sin” (Chaucer,425-429). The three brothers in his story are also greedy, the sin by which they are hooked by Death.

In the same way that the Host in the General Prologue hooks them by making a bet of their Pilgrimage. The Host and the Pardoner are the same, they are both after the money of people. So in selling his wares to them after his story on greed, the Pardoner is also poking fun at the pilgrims’ gullibility – after all, one of them would most probably end up paying for everything. The Host after all, in the General Prologue adds a condition regarding the outcome of the bet. “And whoso will my judgment withsay whoever / Shall pay all that we spend on by the way” (Chaucer,805-806).

By emphasizing in the beginning of his prologue that his way of making people pay up is by telling stories, the Pardoner does the same. “Then tell I them examples many a one/Of old stories long time agone. /For lewd people loven tales old. /Such things can they well report and hold. ” (Chaucer, 435-438). “Lewd” here meant as ignorant laymen, and this is his dig at the pilgrims, the hearers of his story. Therefore, at the end of the story, he sells relics which in the beginning he has already told his fellow pilgrims are fake. Because, he was a Pardoner through and through – he was always on the job, so to speak.

From the beginning till the end, he was true to his profession that of the con man and everything was a con to him. The Franklins’ Tale (Answer) The medieval theory of correspondence as it relates to marriage is best shown by Chaucer in the statement made by Dorigen in lines 54-55, “Sir, I will be your humble, faithful wife,/Take this as truth till heart break in my breast. ” In marriages, both husband and wife pledge their “troth” to one another that in front of God and all divine, they shall be true and faithful to one another, including that of body and property. More than that, in medieval times, the spoken word is the truth.

This is why Arviragus the knight, tell his wife Dorigen that she must keep her word to Aurelius, “Truth is the highest thing that man may keep” (Chaucer, 775). For without keeping their word, then everything becomes false, including that of their troth to one another as husband and wife – their very marriage itself. Not only is this truth limited to the two main characters, from the Franklin who begins by saying that he “is poor in Rhetoric” to both Aurelius who keeps his word to the Magician even if he shall lose his wealth and the Magician who by his knowledge of magical words changes reality.

Dorigen, in trying to soften the Tuth, releases a chain of events that will bring her to a final test of Truth, by trying to evade telling Aurelius the hard truth, she brings herself to a situation wherein she will have to choose between her truth to her husband, her truth to her word to Aurelius or she can choose to die. However, Arviragus as forementioned, insists that she keep her truth, that even is not even an option she must consider.

This is also an aspect of the theory of correspondence wherein everything that is spiritual (of the other world) must also correspond to that of the material (of our world). So that correspondence of truth must be kept, in this world and the afterlife is not even a world to escape in because truth is Truth. That the theory of correspondence was also used in alchemy as means of not only explaining the natural world but also in trying to find for the Philosopher’s stone, it also the means by which the natural world can be controlled (Chaucer 421-427).

In the end, by keeping true to the Truth, meaning to the word that had been spoken, the social hierarchy of was re-established, the husband true to his word, the wife true to her husband and nobility and other members of society true to their estate in society. This is shown by the Mgician in his words to Aurelius, “Dear brother,/Each one of you has nobly dealt with other. /You are a squire, true, and he is a knight,/But God forbid, what of His blessed might, /A clerk should never do a gentle deed /As well as any of you”( Chaucer, 903-908). Social order is maintained for truth has prevailed. The Wife of Bath (Answer)

The contradiction can be found in the first lines of the wife of Bath’s Prologue, wherein she states that because of her experiences with five husbands, she is an expert when it comes to all that is bad in marriages (Chaucer, 1-5). The contradiction then seems more evident when the Wife of Bath stresses that the power of a wife in her marriage is her sexual power but at the end of her tale and prologue, she emphasizes the chasteness of wife, their good judgment in the welfare of marriage. At the end of the first part of the prologue, Chaucer makes the Wife of Bath say: “Upon his flesh, the while I am his wife.

/I have the power during all my life /Over his own good body, and not he (162-165)”. This opinion of the wife of Bath in fact made the Pardoner interrupt he lengthy prologue, for we was going to marry soon and he didn’t want to be ruled by his wife through sex. The Wife of Bath then said that he should hear the whole story first. She then proceeds to tell the story of her five husbands, the first three being “good” for she controlled them sexually, the last two being “bad” because they beat her and that they could not be controlled.

The last, Jenkin, would even read a book of unfaithful wives every night. This man she could not control, and who had such a low opinion of women, was the only one of her five husbands that she loved. In the end, after a rather nasty quarrel that even pretended to have been killed by Jenkin, they make up and she was able to get her way, “And he had said: ‘My own true wedded wife/Do as you please the term of all your life,/Guard your own honour and keep fair my state’- After that day we never had debate. ( Chaucer, 825-829). ”

Thus honor and love in a marriage are important, and in the end, despite initial unhappiness, happiness can be found in a marriage. She then continues with a story of the Arthurian knight and his wife, is how happiness can be found in marriages: to choose between a young wife whose sexual power is most important or an old hag but who will be chaste and true (Chaucer, 1227 – 1234). Of course the knight chooses the old and chaste, wherein magically the old hag turns into a young woman, but it is taken that she will be a humble and pure wife.

But in the end, the whole point of the Wife of Bath’s prologue and story is that for all marriages to be truly happy is to have all husbands allow their wives to rule over them. And as the wife of Bath said all throughout, she was in control of her marriages, but she still is an expert in marriages of woe. But then this is but a tale. And tales are different from Truth.

Works Cited Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. April 21, 2009. < http://classiclit. about. com> Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Ed. Michael Murphy. <http://academic. brooklyn. cuny. edu>