How Important Is the Character of the Old Man in Turning a Macabre Story Into a Truly Chilling Tale?

Topics: Black Death, Middle Ages, Death Pages: 3 (1344 words) Published: May 19, 2012
How important is the character of the old man in turning a macabre story into a truly chilling tale? Macabre stories were popular during the 14th century, particularly due to its themes of war and plagues in the middle ages. The word is believed to originate from the old French phrase ‘danse macabre’ translating to ‘dance of the dead’. Death was a popular subject for the population, who had survived the black plague. During the epoch of the plague and due to its after math, death became a theme within art and literature, although death still scared many, it was omnipresent and almost the norm, therefore death was not always used to create a chilling tale, however, the Pardoner’s tale takes a chilling turn as it turns from a moderate macabre into a truly chilling tale with the presence of the mysterious old man. The text is filled with a macabre atmosphere before the presence of the old man. This is achieved by Chaucer’s depiction of the attractiveness of evil. From a medieval perspective, the corruption of avarice would have been viewed of as a very macabre, it’s referred to as “swich cursedness” because of the societies view that it was a curse due to taking away people’s attention from achieving eternal life. The three rioters show the attractiveness of avarice in the presentation of treasures they fine “florins fine of gold, y-coined rounde…so faire and brighte, a precious hoord.” This line evidently shows the rioters are overpowered by the lust of riches and money, something that would set the macabre story as it signalled a life of damnation as their attention is focused on the materialistic world at the expense of the eternal one. Ironically, the pardoner, a clergy of the Church, commits avarice as his daily job, despite preaching ‘radix malorum est cupiditas.’ Chaucer, as an educated man, and one who lived his daily life in close contact with the monocracy, was aware of the corruption of the Church. The Church at the time was the established authority of...
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