Avarice in The Pardoner’s Tale

Lit Crit and Wit

From the Pardoner’s first words in his Prologue in the Canterbury Tales, the thematic importance of  the sin of avarice is clearly established. His continual preaching theme, “Radix Malorem est Cupiditas”, the Biblical teaching in 1 Timothy 6 that ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’, betrays his own deep-rooted hypocrisy, as the motivation behind this theme is to encourage his listeners to ‘yeven hir pens, and namely onto me.’ Such a theme was contextually pertinent in the 14th century, when the Mercantile Revolution stood juxtaposed to the ubiquitous Black Death.

In the Pardoner’s Tale, the three rioters, whose cunning and combative behaviour is likened to that of the gangs of Pardoners Boniface IX condemned, find the treasure under an ‘ook…tree’. The image of the tree is an example of traductio as it gains significance throughout the text. There is a clear literary parallel with Tree of…

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