What Segment Of Society Does Chaucer Examine With The Pardoner?

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories told by pilgrims from different social classes and backgrounds who are all on their way to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. In the prologue, Chaucer describes the three social classes of the pilgrims: the nobility, clergy, and tradesmen/peasants. It is easy to tell how Chaucer felt about the characters based on his descriptions in the prologue and individual tales. The pardoner, who belonged to the second estate, was portrayed as a corrupt and greedy church figure who preached against greed but took advantage of the commoners by selling them fake holy relics. Chaucer’s portrayal of the pardoner reveals the hypocrisy and corruption within the church, as the pardoner was not pardoning people out of duty to the church, but out of greed. He was proud of his ability to make a profit by “forgiving others of their sins,” and he kept the money given to confession for himself instead of giving it to the church.

 

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