The Canterbury Tales Essay In the Middle Ages many people were at a loss religiously and needed guidance as to how they should lead their lives. Trying to recapture their spirits and learn to live better, these pilgrims would go on journeys for both faith and fun. However, many of these people were only seeking fun as seen in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. The pleasure seekers followed a man name the Pardoner. Although deceitful in some ways, the Pardoner provided a meaningful service for his followers.
The Pardoner's dishonest dealings demonstrate his fraudulent lifestyle. His theft of money that has been donated to the church is spent on drinking and good times. He consumes more than his share of communion wine by going to taverns and pubs. However, he is able to convince others that his drinking is forgivable. The Pardoner also lies to his followers by claiming he has the veil of the Virgin Mary.
By saying that his pillow case is such a holy relic, he convinces people that if they touch it they are pardoned of all their sins. "For I'll absolve you, by my special power, You that make offering, as clean this hour" (lines 625 - 626, The Pardoner's Tale).
More importantly, however, the Pardoner provides a meaningful service by giving others the peace of mind that they can be forgiven. Through his sermons, he speaks to his congregation of a forgiving God and teaches them to forgive one another. Although the Pardoner uses some deceitful tactics, he teaches the basic Christian principles of love and forgiveness to his people. "And with His precious blood salvation bought, Thou art so false and so unkind, alas! Now, good men, God forgive you each trespass" (lines 614-616, The Pardoner's Tale). The Pardoner also teaches the downfalls of greed through stories such as the one about the three men searching to kill "death". However, during their search for death, they find gold and become greedy over the prospect of riches. The men all kill each other because of their greed. The pardoner stresses that greed is the root of all evil.
From The Canterbury Tales, the reader learns from the Pardoner that even though people demonstrate negative traits, they are not necessarily bad people. Humanity will always sin and there are no humans that are totally free of faults or wrongdoing. The Pardoner is an example of a person who has many shortcomings of his own, however he helps others by preaching against these vices. The Pardoner's motto could be "Do as I say, not as I do". No matter what century one lives in, there are always people willing to take advantage of our human weaknesses. The Pardoner takes advantage of people due to his position, but at the same time he provides the comforting knowledge to his followers that they have been forgiven of their sins.