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THE CANTERBURY TALES by Geoffrey Chaucer

Autor: Eva G.
E-mail: evka554@netscape.net

THE CANTERBURY TALES by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Pardoner’s Tale
In the prologue, the Pardoner tells the company about his itinerant preaching. His theme is always the same: “Radix malorum est Cupiditas”, or the root of all evil is Greed. He gives a similar sermon to every congregation and convinces people of the evil of money simply so they will give it to him. He would rather take the last penny from a widow and her starving family than give up his money. Speaking of alcohol, he has now finished his drink and is ready to begin his tale.
The Pardoner tells of a group of youths in Flanders, who spend their time drinking and reveling. Commenting on their lifestyle, the Pardoner enters into a tirade against the vices that they practice. First and foremost is gluttony. Next, he attacks drunkenness, which makes a man seem mad and witless. Next is gambling, the temptation that ruins men of power and wealth. All of these were the particular vices of the rowdy youths in Flanders, to whose story the Pardoner finally returns.


The Pardoner’s Tale
In the prologue, the Pardoner tells the company about his itinerant preaching. His theme is always the same: “Radix malorum est Cupiditas”, or the root of all evil is Greed. He gives a similar sermon to every congregation and convinces people of the evil of money simply so they will give it to him. He would rather take the last penny from a widow and her starving family than give up his money. Speaking of alcohol, he has now finished his drink and is ready to begin his tale.
The Pardoner tells of a group of youths in Flanders, who spend their time drinking and reveling. Commenting on their lifestyle, the Pardoner enters into a tirade against the vices that they practice. First and foremost is gluttony. Next, he attacks drunkenness, which makes a man seem mad and witless. Next is gambling, the temptation that ruins men of power and wealth. All of these were the particular vices of the rowdy youths in Flanders, to whose story the Pardoner finally returns.
As three of these rioters sat drinking, they hear a mourning bell toll. A boy tells them that it is for an old friend of theirs, who was slain by a mysterious figure named Death. They decide to find Death and kill him to avenge their friend’s death. Going down the road, they met an old man who told them that Death may be found underneath a tree but wars them of the perils of finding him. Ignoring his warning, they advance, and underneath the tree, they find instead eight bags of gold coins with no owner.

They decide that they must bring it under the cover of night, and so someone must run into town to fetch bread and wine in the meantime. The youngest one runs off toward town. As soon he is gone, they decide to kill their youngest friend when he returns from town to have a greater share of the wealth. Back in the town, the youngest vagrant is having similar thoughts. He goes to the apothecary and buys the strongest poison available; this he puts into two bottles of wine, leaving the third pure for himself.. He returns to the tree, but the other rioters leap out and kill him.
They sit down to drink and celebrate, and they pick up a poisoned bottle. Within minutes, they lie dead with their friend.

The Pardoner’s tale shows the disastrous effects of greed. The list of vices in his diatribe at the beginning – gluttony, drunkenness, gambling and swearing – are all faults that he himself has displayed in his tale or proudly claimed to have anyway.


The Wife of Bath‘s Tale
The Wife of Bath begins the Prologue to her tale by establishing her authority on marriage. She has been married five times. Of course, many people have criticized her, most on the basis that Christ went on only once to the wedding. She admits that many great Fathers of the Church have proclaimed the importance of virginity. But, she reasons, even if virginity is, someone must be procreating to make more virgins. Of her five husbands, three have been „good“ and two have been „bad“. The first three were good mostly because they were rich and old, she admits. Her fourth husabnd was a reveler and he died when she was on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Of her fifth husband, she has more to say. This husband was different because she married him for love, not for money. It was at her fourth husband‘s funeral that she became attracted to her fifth husband.
One evening, out of frustration, she tears a page out of his book, and he repays her by striking her on the ear. She falls down and pretends to be dead; he bends down to check on her, but she smacks him in the head. They finally manage a truce, in which he hands over all his meager estate to her, and she acts kindly and loving toward him. At last, having chronicled all her marriages, the Wife of Bath prepares to tell her story. Her Prologue, which is in fact longer than her tale, is basically her autobiography.
The Wife of Bath‘s tale is set in the days of King Arthur, who had in his court a young knight. One day, this bachelor came upon a young beatiful young maid on the road, and in his lust, he raped her. The court scandalized and found him deserving of death by beheading. However, the queen and other ladies of the court asked to give him one chance to save jis life, and Arthur granted it. The queen presented the knight with the following chalenge: he has one year to find out what it is women want most in the world and to tell to the court; otherwise, he will lose his head.
Sorrowfully, the knight sete forth, roaming throughout the country asking every woman he meets; to his dismay, nearly everyone answers differently. Finally, the day comes when he is to be judged, and on his way back to the castle, he sees a group of young maids dancing in the forest. When he approaches, an ugly old hag is sitting on the grass. She questions him, and he tells her the entire situation. She assures him that she has the answer and will accompany him to the court, so long as he promises to do the next thing she asks of him. Having no options left, he consents.
Then they arrive in the castle. The knight‘s life is spared. The old hag then comes forth and publicly asks him to marry her. They have a small, private wedding and go to bed together that night. She inquires about his sorrow, and he replies that she is so ugly and comes from so low family that he can hardly bear the shame. So, she offers him a choice: either he can have her as she is – ugly but loyal and good, or he can have her young and unfaithful. Finally, he replies that he would rather trust in her judgment and asks her to choose what she thinks is the best. This was the right answer, she gives him both – she becomes both beautiful and good, and they have a long and happy marriage.


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