What Do We Say to the God of Death?: Examining the Modern Relevance of Chaucer’s “The Pardoner’s Tale”
This article investigates the contemporary implications of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Pardoner’s Tale,” focusing specifically on the parallels between the character of the Pardoner and modern-day charlatans within the Christian community. By exploring the concept of the medieval pardoner in English society, and Chaucer’s decision to include such a character in his Canterbury Tales, a larger narrative emerges that calls into question those who make blind appeals to faith during times of crisis, such as a global pandemic. Examining the descriptions of Chaucer’s Pardoner reveals a character steeped in sarcasm, fraudulence, and deceit who seems to cut against the grain of an anthology of tales that follows a group of Christians on a pilgrimage to a religious site. The entire work of The Canterbury Tales in many ways represents a “memento mori,” or a reminder that we all must die, and suggests through a collection of stories from a diverse group of pilgrims that death is the great equalizer of human beings. The Pardoner’s inherent threat to this equalizing property of death reveals a dark side of the Christian faith, and a space that Christianity holds for charlatans to enter, charlatans who peddle in false promises, and sell God as a means to cheat death. This space, of course, still exists today, though the charlatans who occupy it have taken new names. Where once stood Chaucer’s Pardoner, televangelists and mega-churches have taken his place, while relics and pardons becoming tithes and “The Prosperity Gospel.”
How to Cite:
Leach, S., 2022. What Do We Say to the God of Death?: Examining the Modern Relevance of Chaucer’s “The Pardoner’s Tale”. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 14(2), pp.1–6. DOI: http://doi.org/10.7710/2168-0620.0392
20 Jun 2022.