Another Look at the Hypocrisy of Chaucer’s Pardoner

Document Type : Research Article


Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz


For us, readers of Chaucer living in an age when appeal to religious passions and sentiments as a means for the realization of worldly objectives by some charlatans has grown significantly, reviewing the theme of religious hypocrisy treated in The Canterbury Tales can be useful in a way that it proves a helpful means for recognizing and dealing with the hypocrites. The Pardoner of the Tales is definitely and consensually the most horrible hypocrite character in English literature, and this is evident from both the narrator’s description of this character in the General Prologue and in his own self-confession in the prologue to his tale. Accordingly, the hypocrisy of the Pardoner has been a matter of debates and discussions from the very beginning of critical tradition on this character and his tale. The basic view of this critical tradition, however, is that in dealing with the hypocrisy of the Pardoner and in creating this character, Chaucer has drawn on different literary and theological sources. The first part of this study is an attempt to trace instances of the influence of Biblical definition of the word hypocrisy and biblical description of hypocrites in the character of the Pardoner. In the second part, the presence of traces of the Antichrist tradition with hypocrisy as a major attribute of the Antichrist figure will be treated in this character.