In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, how does the Pardoner's appearance reflect his inner depravity?

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jilllessa | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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The Pardoner's appearance reflects his inner depravity in several ways.  He had hair "yellow as wax"  that hung "lankly" on is head, "thin and droopy" which reflected his spiritual state: "thin and droopy."  He is "disheveled" and his eyes are "shiny" and are compared to a rabbits eyes.  Again this reflects his inner state: he is like an animal, not a human.  His voice "bleated like a goat."  Sinners and those serving Satan are often compared to goats in the Bible and I believe that Chaucer is using a similar comparison to again show the Pardoner's depraved spiritual state.  Finally, he had no beard and seemed to be not a true man; but a "gelding or a mare."  This again shows his inner state. He is not a man; and has not the spirit, courage, or integrity of a man.  Chaucer uses the physical description of the pardoner to draw a picture of one with no true spiritual life and no real connection to the God he claims to serve.


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