Chaucer’s Inversion of Augustinian Rhetoric in the Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale
Hicks, James E.
Essays in Medieval Studies, vol. 3 (1986)
Coolidge Chapman, George Kittredge, and Nancy Owen devote considerable attention to the Pardoner’s Tale as a sermon. Chapman comments upon Chaucer’s “knowledge of medieval rhetoric” and notes the traditional homiletic divisions of the Pardoner’s Tale: namely, a statement of the theme in Latin, a prayer in the vulgar tongue, a prelocution or protheme, an exemplum, and recapitulation (“The Pardoner’s Tale” 506-09). Kittredge also observes the sermonic construction of the Pardoner’s Tale. In Chaucer and his Poetry he writes that “the whole tale … is one of the Pardoner’s sermons, consisting of text …, brief introduction, illustrative anecdote …, and application” (21). Owen explains the entire homiletic structure of the Pardoner’s Tale when she identifies its theme, protheme, restatement of theme, introduction of theme, process, exemplum, conclusion, and benediction (542-48).