The Canterbury Tales Essay: a Moral Hypocrisy

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The Canterbury Tales Essay A Moral Hypocrisy For countless years, stories and tales have contained moral points, or exemplums, that attempt to help people recognize good and evil in the world. More often than not, these morals are recognized and regarded by the reader or listener as true. However, this is not always the case, as some tales use irony and contradiction to challenge the reader’s perceptions of the morals represented. In the novel The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, such a situation is developed where the teller of a tale, the Pardoner, alters its moral perception when his actions have no correlations with his words. The Pardoner’s personal values contradict the exemplum of his tale, creating hypocrisy that voids any moral impact he sought from telling it. The exemplum of the Pardoner’s tale is that greed is the root of all evil and only leads to destruction. The tale describes three men, who in their pursuit to avenge a friend’s murder, get sidetracked by their obsession over wealth when they hear of gold underneath a tree. Each of the three men, all very close friends, plot to kill the others so they do not have to split the gold three ways. The men’s greed alters each of their moral outlooks on life and the situation. As Chaucer says, one of the men “was utterly content / To kill them both and never to repent” (255). This proves the relationship between the men has been forgotten because they believe wealth is greater than friendship. The men’s greed gets the best of each of them and leads to their destruction, illustrating the moral point of greed being evil. Ironically, before the Pardoner tells his tale, one can clearly see that he is a greedy and immoral person, effectively creating hypocritical tension between himself and the values of his story. The Pardoner’s greedy nature becomes apparent when admits how he
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