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Word Count: 1,837
The Pardoners Prologue and Tale The Wife of Bath and the Pardoner are both given particularly ample space to expose their own way of living before telling their Tales in developed Prologues which have certain qualities in common In both cases the speaker seems unaware that the hearers the readers might not be so full of admiration as they seem to be about themselves Both speak in a rather boasting mode about lives and actions which others might find less than appealing The Pardoners Prologue is less lengthy than the Wife of Baths but serves to provide a powerfully ironic frame to the sermon that forms the body of his Tale The Prologue serves to make us aware of the difference that can exist between a Tale and its Teller Critics often call the form used in these two Prologues literary confession but neither of Chaucers characters expresses any sign of regret Rather the two prologues are rooted in satirical traditions in which a figure embodying some vice speaks a confession almost entirely without shame illustrating the way it lives Chaucer found examples of this in the Romance of the Rose the Pardoners Prologue has some vague similarities with the figure Faux-Semblant False Seeming found there As seen in the General Prologue a pardoner is a layman who sells pardons or indulgences certificates from the pope by which people hoped to gain a share in the merits of the saints and escape more lightly from the pains of Purgatory after they died This particular Pardoner works for a religious house notorious for fraud in this trade Just as the indulgence bought with money seems to make confession absolution and repentance unnecessary so the fact that pardoners had permission to preach in the churches led to a confusion between them and ordained priests who alone had power to absolve sinners from guilt There was widespread dissatisfaction with pardoners as also with money-loving
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