The Pardoner's Tale

The Canterbury Tales


"The Pardoner's Tale" is a story about three young rioters who are seeking an end to Death. Death is a character that has been traveling throughout the country, slaying all, including men and women, children and laborers, etc. The three ranks pledge their honor to live and die for one another. Their goal was to slay the killer in God's honor. As they journey to find Death they stumble upon an old man looking to be cured of his old age for youth. He explains to the three ranks that he last saw Death behind a tree that is just down the lane. When the rioters locate the tree, they find eight bushels of gold coins. Instead of doing the right thing they decide to keep the prized possession. The three decide to stay until night before transferring the gold. They realize that they need food and wine, sending out the youngest who received the shortest straw in the deal. Once he leaves the older two decide that once the youngest returns with the food and wine that they would kill off the youngest and split his portion of the gold. Not only did the older two have a plan of action, the youngest one plotted one to take out the older two. Being greedy and wanting all the gold to himself, the youngest returns back to the tree with two bottles of wine both filled with poison. As he hands over the food and wine the older two stab the youngest, killing him instantly. They decide to stop, eat and drink before dumping the body on their way home. They end up dying from their intake of the wine. In the end all of three of the rioters meet Death and none end up with the gold.

The Pardoner shares this tell because he feels as though the Franklin told a pious story, poking fun at those who were taking this journey for religious purposes. The Host had kindly asked that the Pardoner tell a light and funny story. However the Pardoner felt as though he had to fulfill his duty of sharing a story based off of his profession.


  • A Pardoner by definition is by definition a person who is licensed to sell papal pardons or indulgences.
  • Relieves people of their sins they have committed
  • least important traveler according to Chaucer
  • One of the religious figures on the pilgrimage


The moral of this tale is that one can not be greedy in situations. They must be willing to share their findings with others and enjoy the positives together. The Pardoner shared that it is not fair to be greedy, especially taking something that is known to not be yours.
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One thing I had to research when planning on this assignment was the background and knowledge of who a pardoner is and what job they have. I researched the topics they deal with and how they interact with others. A pardoner is someone who lives to sell indulgences to those who made sins.


maladies- a disease or ailment

piteously- deserving or causing feelings of sympathy or pity

avarice- insatiable greed for riches

saunter- to walk with a leisurely gait; stroll

pallor- unusual or extreme paleness, as far from fear, ill health or death; wanness

Essential Question

How does the story that the Pardoner tell compare to his background information?