The Pardoners Tale

By: Geoffrey Chaucer (S'more by: Alex Kittler)

The Pardoners Background

The Pardoner's occupation is to heal and cleanse the sins of the people of the world, by giving sermons, prayers and using relics as ailments. Unfortunately the Pardoner is a fraud and all of this is fake as he tries only to make a living. At the beginning of each sermon he starts by saying "Radix malorum est Cupiditas", which means "greed is the root of all evil." The pardoner is very corrupt as the people give money to the gods, he swipes it up and keeps it for himself as he has become greedy and admits it to the host and other pilgrims. The pardoner lies to make an easy living and shows no shame in it, and continues to do it. The Pardoner shows hypocrisy in his lifestyle by doing the things he preaches against, such as avarice, fraud and gluttony. These sort of acts show a clear side that the pardoner is corrupt, and in the text he admits to it, but will not change himself in anyway.

The Pardoner's Tale (Summary)

The Pardoners tale speaks of 3 young flemish people who were best friends, when they were partying one night, they heard a funeral knell. The men go over to see what the commotion is about and find out that one of there friends had been killed by Death. The presence of this untimely news sparked an anger between the three men and vowed to avenge their friends passing, by killing Death. As the 3 men venture out to kill Death, they stop and meet up with an old man who has been waiting for Death for a long time now. The men ask where to find Him and he points over to a tree and the men sprint over there and find 3 bushels of gold, one for each, and no owner was present.

The 3 Men easily decided that the it would be split up 1 bushel per man. All agreed unanimously and one of the men went back to their house to get wine to celebrate. When he was gone the two men thought how much more wealthier they could be if they killed their friend. The two immediately made a pact unaware that the third man had similar thoughts. when he picked up the wine he took a stop at the apothecary and purchased the strongest poison and filled two of the three bottles, leaving his own pure and safe. As the third man arrived at the tree he has ambushed and knifed to death. The two others celebrated and drank both the poisoned bottles and were dead minutes after.


-falsehood: Something false or untrue

-pulpit: The clerical profession; the ministry

-covetousness: Inordinately or wrongly desirous of wealth or possessions; greedy

-abominable: Repugnantly hateful; detestable; loathsome

-piteously: Evoking or deserving pity; pathetic

Moral of the Pardoners Tale

The moral of this tale tells about the sins of Greed and how its a deadly sin. Three friends who had the strongest of bonds. Once greed laid upon them, they immediately turned on each other and killed one another for a pile of gold which is now useless to them. As the 3 of them are dead by the gold the only thing they had died along with them and that was their friendship.


The one thing I had to research to understand the story more are the "7 Deadly Sins" which I found are divided into two groups Venial Sins and Mortal Sins, venial sins are less severe while mortal sins follow you into the next life. Greed is one of the mortal sins and these three men all succumbed to it and died with that sin still attatched to them.

Essential Questions

1: What caused Greed to overcome the 3 men and make them kill each other? Where in the book does signs of Greed appear?

2: If you were the man getting the wine for the celebration, would you have picked up the poison from the apothecary and die with a mortal sin, or would you die and let yourself be redeemed by God? Why?