Analysis of The Pardoners Tale

Love and betrayal are two major themes that appeared often in the works selected for this semesters reading. A theme that is seen in both the story of Joseph and Chaucers The Pardoners Tale is betrayal with a blend of greed and selfishness.
The story of Joseph involved a boy named Joseph and his brothers. Joseph appeared to be his fathers favorite and always treated him the best. Josephs brothers seemed to be angry and mad at the fact that he was getting all the attention and so they plotted a scheme to get rid of Joseph by killing him. Rather than killing Joseph, they sought profit in him. The brothers acted selfishly and so they betray him by selling him to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver.
The Pardoners Tale is a good example of a story containing these elements. In this story, readers see a group of rioters at a local tavern inn drinking and having a good time. As they look behind them they see a coffin being carried away. The rioters soon find out that it the person in the coffin was a very good friend of theirs. As sad and angry as they are, they set off to find out who has killed their companion. An old man directs the three rioters to a tree down the road and tells them that Death killed their friend. The rioters set out to find Death and kill him in revenge. When they reach the tree, they spot a treasure. They decide to wait until dark to take the findings. While they all wait, one rioter decided to go to town to get them all food. This rioter comes up with an idea that he should kill the other two men and take the treasure for himself. The other two rioters think likewise. They devise a plan to kill the other friend and split the treasure in two parts instead of three.
As it is seen in the story of Joseph, his brothers betray him. Because they are jealous of Joseph, their own flesh and blood, they acted selfish and greedy. They wanted to kill him, but selling him for money would benefit them more. The rioters acted similarly. They are all friends who set out on a mission. Once money is brought into the picture, everyone has different feelings. They all plot to kill one another and betray each other because they want a bigger share of the profit. In this case, everyone ends up dead. The one sent to town decides to put poison in the drinks and the rioters left by the tree plot to stab him. When they finally do stab him, they think they are home free. They continue to feast and when they drink they too end up dead. In this case no one was successful. Everyone ends up with nothing. Their greed led them to their death. Unlike the rioters, the betrayal of Joseph by his brothers benefited him in the long run. He ends up interpreting dreams for the Pharaoh of Egypt.
The Pardoners Tale is a good work to incorporate into the syllabus because it teaches a valuable lesson about the relationship of friends and what limits friends go to in order to betray each other. Greed and jealousy are key elements that make someone betray another person. An example of what people are usually greedy about is money. Money is a materialistic item in which everyone wants. When given the right opportunity, one will do anything for it even if it means betraying friends or especially family members.
A question that this story raises is How far will people go in order to make themselves happy? In this case the rioters went a far as they possibly could. They plotted to kill each other for something that was not even rightfully theirs. If they had not found the treasure, they would of still been alive. The Pardoners Tale can easily be connected to the course assignments because although there is betrayal, there is an element of love in it also. Although it is not easily seen, love is shown. The rioters showed love and compassion when they found out that their friend had died. At once they got together to find the person that had killed him. If they did not love or care about this person they would not have even bothered to ask who had gotten killed. This story contradicts the story of Joseph somewhat because although they are very similar they are also different. At the end of the story, Joseph is reunited with his betrayers. He reunites with his brothers and they all forgive one another. This also shows an element of love. They all decide that it is not worth remembering the bad times but to start with the present. The rioters cannot do this because they are dead. This story also contradicts the theme of love and betrayal because a pardoner is thought of one who forgives and helps people with things. They preach and tell stories of good things that happen. In the Canterbury Tales, the Pardoner is looked at as the total opposite. His stories involve murders, stealing and even drinking. The Pardoners Tale is a good story to add to the curriculum. It teaches the importance of knowing right from wrong. It is a good tale to continue with if one is reading The Canterbury Tales. One can learn how money makes people not care about anything else. It usually leads to hurting the people they love and sometimes ends up in death.


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