The Pardoner is the best representation of an allegorical character in The Prologue of Geoffrey Chaucers The Canterbury Tales. The Pardoner is the perfect personification of fraudulence. He shows this in three basic ways: his appearance, speech, and actions. If one just glances through the reading of the Pardoner than one will think that he is a good religious man, but if one look further into it than he will find the small double meanings that he is the exact opposite. Chaucer likes to use an allegorical style to add some comedy and sophistication to his writings.
The comedy is most heavily used in the Pardoners description than in any other part of The Canterbury Tales. For example (page 135, line 712) There was no pardoner of equal grace/ For in his trunk he had a pillow case. When the words no pardoner of equal grace are used you are lead to believe that the Pardoner is a great man, but if you look back in the reading you will find totally different things. He is a dirty, immoral man that really does not have much grace. Another example of the sarcastic comedy is (page 135, line 727) In church he was a noble ecclesiast. How well he read a lesson or told a story! But best of all he sang an Offertory, For well he knew that when that song was sung Hed have to preach and tune his honey-tongue Thats why he sang so merrily and loud. Again the text seems to be saying he is a noble ecclesiast and that he likes to preach the word of God to others. If one looks at it closer one will find out that calling him a noble ecclesiast is a joke and that he only preaches and sings so that he can take the tithes for himself.
There are quite a few examples of the Pardoners actions being the personification of fraudulence throughout lines 608-734. For instance (page 135, line 705) Hed sewed a holy relic on his cap:/ His wallet lay before him on his lap,/ Brimful of pardon come from Rome all hot. The relic sewed on his hat showed that he thought of himself as a righteous holy man, and that is one thing he was not. The wallet and the pardons was the most disturbing of his acts. Since he was holding his wallet on his lap, it shows that he is very interested in money. He is showing off his fat wallet and keeping in front of him for admiration. The many pardons that were hot from Rome means that he was over selling pardons to the dumb and poor for his personal benefit.
The most obvious fraudulent trait of the Pardoner was his appearance. (page 135, line 695) This Pardoner had hair as yellow as wax,/ Hanging down smoothly like a hank of flax./ In driblets fell his locks behind his head/ Down to his shoulders which they overspread:/ Thinly they fell, like rat-tail, one by one. The analogy of his hair being yellow as wax makes you think that it has a nasty yellow look to it, yellow representing a very unclean look. Chaucer chose to describe the locks as rat-tail like driblets that thinly fell down his shoulders. He could have easily used more pleasant words, but the words driblet and rat have a very negative tone. This suggests that he is a villain of sort. Since he has this classical evil look to him and Chaucer went through great pains to make it known I think that he is a one dimensional character. That dimension is of course fraudulence personified.
His speech was unusual like most of his characteristics. It was very lady like and very dishonest. Case in point: (line 135, page 707) He had the same small voice a goat has got. His chin no beard had harbored, nor would harbor. Smoother than ever chin was left by barber. This weird goat like voice gives one a sneaky underhanded feel to the Pardoner. Another example is (page 135, line 719) He said he had a gobbet of the sail/ Saint Peter had time when he made bold/ To walk the waves,