The Pardoner's Tale

by John Wain

Start Free Trial

How does the pardoner reveal his trade secrets in "The Pardoner's Tale"?

Quick answer:

The pardoner chooses to reveal his trade secrets by describing them with pride in the prologue to "The Pardoner's Tale." He brags openly about how he cons and defrauds innocent people by using lies and false relics. He is so hardened that he sees nothing wrong with what he does.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Pardoner reveals his trade secrets by describing them to the other pilgrims in the prologue to his tale. He takes them step-by-step through the fraudulent sermon he gives as he travels to different churches.

He first tells the worshippers that a love of money is the root of all evil. He follows that by establishing his authority as a cleric by showing letters from bishops and Papal bulls (written documents) that approve his work.

He then shows the worshippers a false relic, which he keeps in a brass box. It is a sheep bone, but the audience assumes it is a bone from a saint's body. The pardoner then tells his listeners that if they put the bone in their well, they can use the well water to cure their animals of diseases. Also, if a person drinks this well water, it will cause their animals to multiply and cure the drinker of jealousy.

Having gone over the benefits of the false relic, the pardoner then uses manipulation, saying that only the worst sinners will not want to come forward to be forgiven of their sins. This assures him that everyone will step to the altar to receive a blessing and a pardon in return for a cash payment.

The pardoner then brags openly to the other pilgrims about how his lies are believed by stupid people. The pardoner shows himself to be a hardened person who is proud of his con artistry. He wants his listeners to know how good he is at what he does and reveals no shame at all about defrauding innocent people by abusing their religious faith.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial