illustration of a clergyman with Canterbury cathedral behind him

The Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer

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20: The Pardoner's Tale Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. What is an allegory?

2. What abstract qualities are portrayed by the evil young men in the story?

3. What is the theme of this tale?

4. What is the moral lesson of this tale?

5. What characteristics does the Pardoner reveal in his prologue?

6. How does this story fit the character of the Pardoner?

7. Why would medieval audiences have been familiar with The Pardoner's Tale?

8. How does the youngest reveler plan to kill the other two?

9. Does he kill them?

10. How does the youngest die?

Answers
1. An allegory is a tale in which the characters personify abstract qualities, usually to teach a moral lesson.

2. They represent Avarice, Gluttony, and Sloth.

3. The theme of the tale is the inevitable outcome of wickedness.

4. The moral lesson is that avarice, gluttony, and sloth lead to spiritual death.

5. He himself is totally motivated by greed and seems to have no virtue at all.

6. The young men represent all the Pardoner's own faults.

7. It was famous in both Eastern and Western literature and was often acted out as a morality play.

8. He poisons the wine that he buys for them to drink.

9. Yes; they drink the wine and die.

10. The other two young men kill the youngest as soon as he returns from town.

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