The Pardoner's Tale Notes from The Canterbury Tales

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The Canterbury Tales The Pardoner's Tale

In Flanders, a group of three men did nothing but engage in riotous and irresponsible behavior. One night in a tavern they saw other men carrying a corpse to a grave. A young onlooker told the rioters that the dead man was one of their friends who was slain by a thief named Death. They claim that Death has killed thousands and they vow to slay Death by themselves. As the three riotous drunkards journey to slay Death, they come across an old man clothed in robes who claims that Death will never take him away. He tells them that they will find Death himself under a nearby tree.

The three men find a bushel of gold under the tree instead of Death and agree to divide it equally amongst themselves. They realize that they will look like robbers when they arrive in town with their newfound wealth and thereupon draw straws to see who will go into town to procure food and drink for the three. They plan to stay in the forest with the gold until it is safe to leave in the middle of the night. The youngest of the rioters drew the shortest straw and went into town. While away, the two remaining men decide to kill the third upon his return so that they could split the money in two, instead of three. While he was in town, the young man bought poison for the wine bottle, which he planned to give to the two others so that he could keep the money for himself. When the three men were reunited in the forest, the two older rioters stabbed the youngest and then drank the wine. All three men died.

Topic Tracking: Violence 12
Topic Tracking: Loyalty 12

The Pardoner interjects into his tale at this point preaching against avarice. He then plans to sell his fake relics to the rest of the pilgrims, illustrating avarice at its best.

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