The Prologue To The Pardoner's Tale

8292 Words34 Pages
Page 1 of 16 Annotated Reading "The Pardoner's Tale" Unit.Lesson.Activity #_______ British and World Literature "The Prologue to the Pardone r's Tale, " lines 1 – 60 The Pardoner uses the prologue (or introduction) to his tale to explain how he makes a living. In the section below, he says that upon arriving in a new town, the first thing he does is claim authority from the pope and show his pardons with the papal seal in order to ensure that no one will harm him. Then he shows his wares: his relics. He implies that these relics are not real, then goes on to detail the outlandish claims he makes about the miraculous powers his relics offer to those who purchase them. Masters, quoth he, in churches, when I preach, I am at pains that all…show more content…
Note that the tale, which seemed at line 20 like it was going to be about lechery, may have taken a different turn. As you'll find out below, the story is about the dangers of avarice, or greed. You learn that the three roisterers have decided to avenge the death of a companion by seeking out Death and murdering him. What might it mean that these three go looking for Death? If death wasn't personified (depicted as though it were a person) in this way, what could you say about the quest these roisterers are embarking upon? What connection is the Pardoner trying to make between their sinful lifestyle and their quest? Now these three roiste rers, whereof I tell, Long before prime was rung by any bell, 200 Were sitting in a tavern for to drink; And as they sat they heard a small bell clink Before a corpse being carried to his grave; Whereat one of them called unto his knave: Go run, said he, and ask them civilly 205 What corpse it is that's just now passing by, And see that you report the man's name well. "Sir," said the boy, "it needs not that they tell. I learned it, ere you came here, full two hours; He was, by gad, an old comrade of yours; 210 And he was slain, all suddenly, last night, When drunk, as he sat on his bench upright; An unseen thief, called Death, came stalking by, Who hereabouts makes all the people die, And with his spear he clove his heart in two 215 And went his way and made no more ado. He's slain a thousand w ith this pestile nce; And, master, ere you come in his presence, Roisterers are people who enjoy themselves in a boisterous way; prime here means "daw n"; knave means "male servant." The Pardoner picks up where he left off at line 20 (the "dancing gir ls" are conspicuously absent). One "roisterer" wants to know the identity of a corpse being carried to burial. His servant explains that it is a friend who has been killed by Death. The bubonic
Open Document