The Pardoner's Prologue

The pardoner describes his preaching techniques and confesses his sinfulness to hisfellow pilgrims. The theme of his sermons, he says, is always the same--"the love of money is the root of all evils." Through the brilliance of his eloquence he can persuade people to turn away from the very vice which he is practicing as he condemns it. With the official documents (papal license), a few Latin words and his relics--an old sheep's bones, which he claims wards off the pox and all other diseases from animals and multiplies a man's store of earthly goods and cures jealousy as well; a mitten, which mutiplies whatever amount of grain a man might sow--he swindles money easily from superstitious people. Not only a skillful liar, he is also a talental psychologist, who studies people's mental attitude well, especially the sense of guilt. In the Middle Ages, religion was the only guidelineof people's lives. Nothing could be more horrified than Hell and nothing more providential thansalvation. To appetite his avarice, the pardoner sells indulgence to lay. An indulgence was a remission of the penance imposed by a priest in absolving a penitent who confessed a sin and indicated remorse. It was granted by papal decrees for those who agreed to perform the act of charity, prayer, pilgrimage or other pious work. However, some preachers deceived people into believing that the purchase of an indulgence was a guarantee of Heaven. The pardoner is justone among these evil priests. He is a thoroughly self-seeking individual, but one thing very terrible of him is that he not only knows his avarice clearly, but also takes pride in his evil and greed. His vicious triumphs over those weak and superstitious minds and his insulting vanity at the end of the tale in addressing his fellow pilgrims as if they were credulous fools combine to form the psychological complexity of his character.

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