Ugly, Twisted, Seductive : Art as Hypocrisy :
Post on 23-Feb-2016
DESCRIPTIONUgly, Twisted, Seductive : Art as Hypocrisy :. The Pardoners Prologue and Tale. Recap: Back to Blasphemy and the Host as Figures for the Ambiguous Moral Status of the Literary. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
Ugly, Twisted, Seductive: Art as Hypocrisy:
The Pardoners Prologue and TaleUgly, Twisted, Seductive: Art as Hypocrisy:
1. The man who proposes the story-telling competition that is the Tales and who acts as its referee is the Host: the inn-keeper at the Tabard.2. As an inn-keeper, the Host is a good natural figure for community, since hospitality is his job.3. But his name, Host, makes him a figure in a second sense, for this is the name given to the eucharistic host, the wafer consumed as the body of Christ at Mass.4. We know this meaning is operating in the Tales because the Host invokes the body of Christ all the time, blasphemously swearing as part of his Im a good fellow act. 5. In other words, the Tales, a poem about a Christian society, makes central use of the societys central symbol, the host, but in an aggressively non-idealistic way.Recap: Back to Blasphemy and the Host as Figures for the Ambiguous Moral Status of the LiteraryThe Pilgrims Dine at the Tabard Inn
Woodcut from William Caxtons Second Edition of The Canterbury Tales, published in 1483Simply put, the pun activates our sense of the tension between the ideal (host) and the real (Host).In theory, late medieval English society was Christian. According to St. Paul, Christians are those who share in the body of Christ as members of the Church, which is the body of Christ on earth, so and are sanctified.In practice, though, English society was just people, who compete, steal, fornicate, betray, and so on. They live in/are the real world, not an ideal, saintly one.The blaspheming Host/host is an apt metaphor for this.What does the Host/host pun really mean?Though we are many we are one body, because we all partake of one bread. (St. Paul, I Corinthians 12)
The Mass: The Elevation of the Host
In Flaundres whilom was a compaignye Of yonge folk that haunteden folye,As riot, hasard, stywes, and tavernes, Where as with harpes, lutes, and gyternes, They daunce and pleyen at dees bothe day and nyght, And eten also and drynken over hir myght, Thurgh which they doon the devel sacrifise Withinne that develes temple, in cursed wise, By superfluytee abhomynable. Hir othes been so grete and so dampnable That it is grisly for to heere hem swere. (The Pardoners Tale)How serious is blasphemous swearing anyway?Swearing is expres agayn the comandement of God (The Parson) and the Parson agrees: For Cristes sake, ne swereth nat so synfully in dismembrynge of Crist by soule, herte, bones, and body. (The Parsons Tale)Blasphemy belongs in the tavern: the Devils Church, along with drunkenness, gluttony, fornication
. In other words: when you patronize the Hosts establishment, you might drink too much, eat too much, and flirt too much And who really cares? Isnt that normal behavior? Most of the time?
Our swearing Host, then, is Mister Normal, he represents our Everyday Selves. But since hes also our sacred host, he also represents our Sunday, best selves.To blaspheme is to tear Gods body in your mouth, says the Pardoner
Chaucers Host according to William BlakeNot so the Pardoner! Our professional fundraiser who makes money by offering pardons for sins in return for financial contributions and who looks and behave as odd as can beWith hym ther rood a gentil Pardoner Of Rouncivale, his freend and his compeer, That streight was comen fro the court of Rome. Ful loude he soong com hider, love, to me! This Somonour bar to hym a stif burdoun; Was nevere trompe of half so greet a soun. This Pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex, But smothe it heeng as dooth a strike of flex; By ounces henge his lokkes that he hadde,
And therwith he his shuldres overspradde; But thynne it lay, by colpons oon and oon. But hood, for jolitee, wered he noon, For it was trussed up in his walet. Hym thoughte he rood al of the newe jet; Dischevelee, save his cappe, he rood al bare. Swiche glarynge eyen hadde he as an hare. ... A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot. No berd hadde he, ne nevere sholde have; As smothe it was as it were late shave. I trowe he were a geldyng or a mare. (General Prologue, The Pardoner)
The Pardoner is personally strange, dissolute, even queer. But as a religious fund-raiser he comes across very differently:Lordynges, quod he, in chirches whan I preche, I peyne me to han an hauteyn speche, And rynge it out as round as gooth a belle, For I kan al by rote that I telle. My theme is alwey oon, and evere was -- Radix malorum est cupiditas. Thanne peyne I me to strecche forth the nekke, And est and west upon the peple I bekke, As dooth a dowve sittynge on a berne. Myne handes and my tonge goon so yerne That it is joye to se my bisynesse.(Pardoners Prologue)
As a fund-raiser, armed with bulls of pardon, relics, and a patter, the Pardoner is brilliant.Bulles of popes and of cardynales, Of patriarkes and bishopes I shewe And in Latyn I speke a wordes fewe, To saffron with my predicacioun, And for to stire hem to devocioun. Thanne shewe I forth my longe cristal stones, Ycrammed ful of cloutes and of bones, -- Relikes been they, as wenen they echoon. Goode men and wommen, o thyng warne I yow -- If any wight be in this chirche now
That hath doon synne horrible, that he Dar nat, for shame, of it yshryven be, Or any womman, be she yong or old, That hath ymaad hir housbonde cokewold, Swich folk shal have no power ne no grace To offren to my relikes in this place. And whoso fyndeth hym out of swich blame, He wol come up and offre in goddes name, And I assoille him by the auctoritee Which that by bulle ygraunted was to me. (Pardoners Prologue)
But we can already tell the Pardoner is acting. And indeed he boasts as much:By this gaude have I wonne, yeer by yeer, An hundred mark sith I was pardoner. I stonde lyk a clerk in my pulpet, And whan the lewed peple is doun yset, I preche so as ye han herd bifoore, And telle an hundred false japes moore. Of avarice and of swich cursednesse Is al my prechyng, for to make hem free To yeven hir pens, and namely unto me. For myn entente is nat but for to wynne, And nothyng for correccioun of synne.I rekke nevere, whan that they been beryed,
Though that hir soules goon a-blakeberyed! For certes, many a predicacioun Comth ofte tyme of yvel entenciounThus spitte I out my venym under hewe Of hoolynesse, to semen hooly and trewe. but shortly myn entente I wol devyse -- I preche of no thyng but for coveityse. Therfore my theme is yet, and evere was, Radix malorum est cupiditas. Thus kan I preche agayn that same vice Which that I use, and that is avarice.(Pardoners Prologue)
The Pardoner is a Hypocrite:Yet he still claims that his preaching can be effective that his tale can be moral: Thus kan I preche agayn that same vice Which that I use, and that is avarice.
For though myself be a ful vicious man, A moral tale yet I yow telle kan, Which I am wont to preche for to wynne. Now hoold youre pees! my tale I wol bigynne.
Thus the challenge of the Pardoners Tale is this: can a vicious man tell a moral tale for a vicious reason and still do good? Is such a tale moral? What work can it do in the world under these circumstances?Be ready for deathSire, quod this boy, it nedeth never-a-deel; It was me toold er ye cam heer two houres. He was, pardee, an old felawe of youres; And sodeynly he was yslayn to-nyght, Fordronke, as he sat on his bench upright. Ther can a privee theef men clepeth deeth, That in this contree al the peple sleth, And with his spere he smoot his herte atwo, And wente his wey withouten wordes mo. He hath a thousand slayn this pestilence. And, maister, er ye come in his presence. Me thynketh that it were necessarie For to be war of swich an adversarie. Beth redy for to meete hym everemoore; Thus taughte me my dame; I sey namoore.
The rioters swear fellowship: a compact to kill DeathYe, goddes armes! quod this riotour, Is it swich peril with hym for to meete? I shal hym seke by wey and eek by strete, I make avow to goddes digne bones! Herkneth, felawes, we thre been al ones; Lat ech of us holde up his hand til oother, And ech of us bicomen otheres brother. And we wol sleen this false traytour deeth. He shal be slayn, he that so manye sleeth, By goddes dignitee, er it be nyght! Out they go into the countryside to seek and slay Death. In a field, by a style, they meet, instead, an Old Man, ancient, crippled, and unable to dieNe deeth, allas! ne wol nat han my lyf Thus walke I, lyk a restelees kaitif, And on the ground, which is my moodres gate, I knokke with my staf, bothe erly and late, And seye leeve mooder, leet me in! Lo how I vanysshe, flessh, and blood, and skyn! Allas! whan shul my bones been at reste? Mooder, with yow wolde I chaunge my cheste That in my chambre longe tyme hath be, Ye, for an heyre clowt to wrappe in me!
After they have insulted him, the Old Man tells them how to find DeathNow, sires, quod he, if that yow be so leef To fynde deeth, turne up this croked wey, For in that grove I lafte hym, by my fey, Under a tree, and there he wole abyde; Noght for youre boost he wole him no thyng hyde. Se ye that ook? right there ye shal hym fynde. God save yow, that boghte agayn mankynde, And yow amende! thus seyde this olde man;
Determined to keep the gold, the rioters send one of their number, the youngest, into town to get them drinks while they wait. Meanwhile, the other two hatch a DASTARDLY plotThat oon of hem spak thus unto that oother Thou knowest wel tho art my sworen brother; Thy profit wol I telle thee anon. Thou woost wel that oure felawe is agon. And heere is gold, and that ful greet plentee, That shal departed been among us thre. But nathelees, if I kan shape it so That it departed were among us two, Hadde I nat doon a freendes torn to thee?
When their friend returns, one of them will smile and embrace him, while the other STABS him unexpectedly
Little do they know, however, that their fellow is hatching a similar plot against them This one involves RAT POISON
And atte laste the feend, oure enemy, Putte in his thought that he sholde poysen beye, With which he myghte sleen his felawes tweye;
So they all die horribly, and in their sinsSuch is the punishment for AVARICE, for the greed that looks only to its own good, that destroys COMMUNITY, that eats away at the self : the love of money that is THE ROOT OF ALL EVILAll in all, you had better give money to the Pardoner, if you want to avoid this terrible sin, and the fate that awaits those who commit it
And therefore do I precheShocking moments in the Tale1. The tale reverses the message of one of Jesus famous parables:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. (Matthew 13:44)
2. The tale parodies the Last Supper and the Mass that Commemorates it. The Rioters drink to their own damnationFor as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. (I Corinthians 11)
The Pardoner Goes Too FarBut, sires, o word forgat I in my tale -- I have relikes and pardoun in my male, As faire as any man in Engelond. Whiche were me yeven by the popes hond. If any of yow wole, of devocion, Offren, and han myn absolucion, Com forth anon, and kneleth heere adoun,And mekely receyveth my pardoun I rede that oure hoost heere shal bigynne, For he is moost envoluped in synne. Com forth, sire hoost, and offre first anon, And thou shalt kisse the relikes everychon, Ye, for a grote! unbokele anon thy purs.
Nay, nay! quod he, thanne have I Cristes curs! Lat be, quod he, it shal nat be, so theech! Thou woldest make me kisse thyn olde breech, And swere it were a relyk of a seint, Though it were with thy fundement depeint! But, by the croys which that seint Eleyne fond, I wolde I hadde thy coillons in myn hond In stide of relikes or os seintuarie. Lat kutte hem of, I wol thee helpe hem carie; They shul be shryned in an hogges toord!
The Knight has to intervene to save the situation.This pardoner answerde nat a word; So wrooth he was, no word ne wolde he seye. now, quod oure hoost, I wol no lenger pleye With thee, ne with noon oother angry man. But right anon the worthy knyght bigan, Whan that he saugh that al the peple lough, Namoore of this, for it is right ynough! Sire pardoner, be glad and myrie of cheere; And ye, sire hoost, that been to me so deere, I prey yow that ye kisse the pardoner. And pardoner, I prey thee, drawe thee neer, And, as we diden, lat us laughe and pleye. Anon they kiste, and ryden forth hir weye.
If the Host represents a spectrum then, within which the Tales can be told, in all their variety from holy tales to historical tales to melodramatic tales to frankly rude tales to problematic tales the Pardoner represents something more complicated
A hypocrite someone who feigns, makes up, pretends an Artist the Pardoner shows how stories, literature, art may not build community but may threaten to destroy it. The Canterbury Tales, through the Pardoner and others, is alive to the destructive potential of story-telling.
The Pardoner and the Host