Throughout the Middle Ages, attitudes toward the Catholic Church intensified socially and politically. One of the, Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer is, “The Pardoner’s Tale.” In the “The Pardoner’s Tale”, Chaucer uses the character of the Pardoner to reveal the corruption in the Catholic Church and to help change the attitudes of people in different classes. Chaucer wanted the people of the time to see that the upper classes were using the Catholic Church to defraud the people of the lower classes. The character of the Pardoner preached lies to the people and made them think impossible things could happen and conned them into giving him money. Chaucer admits the Pardoner as being a fraud and greedy man. Chaucer uses irony and satire throughout “The Pardoner’s Tale” to reveal the corruption taking place in the church and using humor to illustrate that problem. “The Pardoners Tale” helped change the way the people thought about the Catholic Church.
Irony is when words are used to describe the intended meaning, but in reality it means something different. Chaucer uses irony to describe the corruption of the Church. One example he says is, “Radix Malorum est cupiditas,” which means that having greed is the root of all evils (pg.1, line 6 in “The Prologue to the Pardoner’s Tale”). The Pardoner preaches that gluttony is the reason for people’s sins. In fact, “For he [the Pardoner] is most enveloped in all sin,” which means that the Pardoner is most likely the most sinful of all the travelers (pg.1, line 480 in “The Pardoners Tale”). The Pardoner “will drink good liquor of the vine and have a pretty wench in every town.” (pg. 4, line 124-125 in the “Prologue to the Pardoner’s Tale”) These quotes reveal the Church’s political abuse of power because the clergy are supposed to be ordained for religious duties and preach salvation. The Pardoner is supposed to be pardoning people or forgiving their sins; but instead, he is preaching them lies to get them to buy their pardons. This shows corruption of the church officials who are capable of abusing their powers for their own benefit.
Satire is the usage of humor to criticize people’s behaviors and stupidity in attempt to bring about change. Chaucer uses elements of satire to politically and socially show the corruption of the church and help change the attitude toward the Catholic Church. One example, spoken by the Pardoner is, “My holy pardon cures and will