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The Pardoner of The Canterbury Tales

The Pardoner of The Canterbury Tales

How can a man exact vengeance on God if there is nothing a mortal can do to hurt Him? The Pardoner was born sterile, which resulted in abnormal physical development. He blames God for his deformities and attempts to attack God by attacking the link between God and mankind – the Church.

In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer indirectly depicts the characters through the stories they tell. The tale is a window upon the person that tells it. However, the Pardoner’s tale seems to contradict this situation. The Pardoner, an immoral man, tells a moral story because he believes that doing this will further his ultimate objective – revenge upon God for his anomalous physical attributes. “He had the same small voice a goat has got. / His chin no beard had harboured, nor would harbour, / smoother than ever chin was left by barber. / I judge he was a gelding, or a mare” (21).

The Pardoner usually offers his pardons and relics for sale after delivering a sermon, but he readily admits to his companions that they are not real. By admitting his dupl…

Roger Malvin’s Burial and History

“Roger Malvin’s Burial” and History

Q. D. Leavis states that Hawthorne had among his forbears a “witch-hanging judge and the Quaker-whipping Major” (30). This is a reference to one instance of historical allusion in Hawthorne’s short stories. This essay will explore a variety of historical incidences referred to in his short story, “Roger Malvin’s Burial.”

Clarice Swisher in “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography” states the author’s deep historical ties:

William Hathorne was a colonial magistrate involved in the persecution of Quakers, another Protestant religious group. Hawthorne later described him as “grave, bearded, sable-cloaked, and steeple-crowned,” a hard, dark man. His son John Hathorne was well known as a Puritan judge who condemned women as witches in 1692 during the Salem witchcraft trials, and who later expressed no remorse for his actions. . . . Of his ancestors, especially Judge John, Hawthorne later said, “I . . . hereby take shame upon myself for their sakes, and pray that any curse incurred by them . . . may be now and henceforth removed (14).

Is it any wonder then, that Hawthorne in “Roger Malvin’s Burial” should use history as a source for this tale. Wagenknecht notes in Nathaniel Hawthorne a reliance on history (60). Some other critics comment on Hawthorne’s incorporation of history into his literary works. Stanley T. Williams in “Hawthorne’s Puritan Mind” states: What he wrote of New England was not merely “local color”; rather it was the subconscious mind of New England. It was this memorable art of his which distinguished him from Emerson and Thoreau, an art which included his distillations of historical episodes into moods.” (43) Sculley Bradley, Richmond Croom Beatty and E. Hudson Long i…

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