Chaucer was an excellent author with a brilliant mind that allowed him to change an entire generation’s way of thinking. His poem The Canterbury Tales exposed enormous amounts of corruption in the church and many thought-out themes that directly associated with day to day life, without actually ever stating it. His writing techniques protected his actions from the government that he served for as a diplomat. His position in the King’s court allowed him to see first hand the corruptness in the government and churches. By writing The Canterbury Tales in English, the language of the common man, Chaucer exposed the corruption and greed in the Catholic church through the Pardoner and the Summoner for all of society to see. Chaucer unmasked greed in society by acting out how the church officials continually pandered money from the general public around them.
Each official had their own way of pandering money from the public. In Chaucer’s views, the Pardoner was the worst of all and used him as the main example of greed. He incorporated a tale that exemplified how hurtful and large greed was in society. It allowed readers to grasp how badly greed hurt everyone involved. In “The Pardoner’s Tale” Chaucer acts out a story about three guys that discovered gold and end up killing each other over greed. ” “The Pardoner’s Tale,” is a sermon about greed that serves to instill fear in his listeners that Death will come for them and they will not have repented of all of their sins.
Once the Pardoner has given his sermon he asks his audience for money in return for forgiveness” (Day 12). The Pardoner was using this story about death after greed to scare the pilgrims into paying for their forgiveness from their sins. The thing about his technique is that he had already told the pilgrims about his schemes to get money. The Pardoner screwed himself by telling them his secret.
This was chaucer’s way of showing just how greedy and corrupt the Pardoner was. ” He is using the Pardoner on the pilgrimage and not a persona in his character’s story to satirize the office of pardoner” (Day 12). The Pardoner’s role in The Canterbury Tales was to magnify Chaucer’s ambition to unveil the deep secrets of the Catholic church and the corruption of government. Another way of viewing the Pardoner’s role is by thinking he was just a fool that Chaucer put into his story and by using the irony of the Pardoner and his tale he brought laughter to his audiences. Chaucer could have written The Canterbury Tales without any meaning to it. He could have just written the entire poem just to entertain his readers. This assumption would be incorrect.
Chaucer’s intentions were very clear to anyone capable of reading English and literate enough to grasp ideas. His objectives were to expose the Catholic Church as a fraud and the greed that the officials possesed. His purposes were plainly presented to the common man through his words that were written in his poem. Each tale had its own way of silently exposing little by little, the greed each official held and the overall corruption of the Catholic Church.
“In all three of these stories the characters are corrupt church officials revealing their true natures and their greed by taking advantage of the common folk they are bound to serve.” (Day 9). This expert on The Canterbury Tales explained how Chaucer used the characters as a way of tipping off to his readers, the true intentions of the Catholic Church.
“Chaucer’s point is quite clear: this was not how a Summoner was intended by the Church to act.” (Day 8). The expert also states that Chaucer point was very clearly stated. “He was a thief, a summoner, and a pimp” (Chaucer 311). This is the very clearly stated line that Chaucer used to present his point for the Summoner and his intentions. “Citing Saint Paul, Clanvowe notes that men are led to manslaughter and to the loss of their souls by greed”(359 lewis). This expert helps to better explain how bad greed actually is.
There is no denying Chaucer’s high expectations from his powerful and honest poem, that was written to enlighten the common people being ripped off by the higher beings that were put into power to protect and serve them. The corruption in the Catholic Church concerned Chaucer greatly. His goals as a writer were to expose the Catholic Church and try to change the system for the better. He was a dedicated writer that was very courageous in doing his work. The corruption sickened him in the ways that it worked and effected church followers. The Canterbury Tales released heaps of malfeasance dedicated to the church officials.
The corruption in the Catholic Church was out of hand. Chaucer used the Friar, and many more characters, to help present this to his audience. “”The Pardoner’s Tale,” along with “The Friar’s Tale” and “The Summoner’s Tale.” are a clearoutpouring of Chaucer’s frustration at an institution that was no longer functioning in the bestinterest of the people.” (Day 8).
Each tale he used in his story had a beautiful way of explaining the Catholic Church’s ways. Corruption in the church affected many people. It hurt the poor that were using their last little bit of money to buy a spot in heaven. It hurt the widows who were being stripped of all their money to make sure their husband got into heaven. It hurt every single sick or dying person that would have done anything they could to be healed or washed from their sins to be saved from hell and reserved a spot in heaven. His position in the king’s court allowed him to witness these horrible events everyday. He knew that it was wrong and corrupt and knew that the corruption in the church, was what was wrong with society in his time.
Many people may asked why he didn’t do something sooner or stop the officials while they were doing wrong in front of him. Some might argue that he was one of the corrupt ones because he didn’t stop them sooner. Chaucer was well respected man and held a high office in the king’s Court. If an ordinary peasant would have spoken up he would have been imprisoned for life. If a man of Chaucer’s authority and level would have been caught doing so he would have been treated even worse than an ordinary man. “Chaucer could defend his tales and their harsh and often crude critique of the Church by pointing to his characters as the source of the idea”(Day 3).
He used his characters to hide behind. His characters acted as a defense to the government. They were chaucer’s way of keeping out of trouble and staying out the spotlight. There might also be controversy over the fact that the church was even corrupt.
The church could have been going broke and needed a way of bringing in money. The officials also could have decided that people were to stingy and got whatever they wanted and still acted a fool without any cost. Although, the people being ripped off were not bad or rich. Most of the people were low life peasants without any money. They were just trying to make sure their loved ones were taken care of after death. See the church was corrupt, and there is no way of disproving that. Everyone got ripped off by the church and were lied to by the officials. The point is that no matter what some of the others views are, what the church did cannot be changed or disproved.
Being that Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales in English for the common man to read, and by using the Pardoner and the Summoner, he exposed the corruption and greed in the Catholic Church. His expectations of his tales were met. He successfully exposed the Catholic Church and eventually was able to enforce change in the system. Chaucer died before he was able to finish the tales, but his goals as the original author helped The Canterbury Tales to become famous after he died.
In the end, greed is still in society today and in the governments around the world. It lives and grows inside of every living creature put on this Earth. Greed in itself, is every man’s worst enemy.