In life everyone is searching for something or someone. Sometimes we just do not realize we have found it until it is too late. What we find may not always be what we are looking for. This is what happens in the Pardoner s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer, the three rioters are searching for death in the physical form. They do find death or rather it finds them in the very end of the story. In my opinion the three men do not find what they are searching for but that death finds them, in a place they never thought to look, in the depth of the human soul.
The Pardoner s Tale begins with three men in a drunken rage swearing to find death after it steals another one of their friends. If we can only catch him, Death is dead (Chaucer 117). They take an oath to always stick up for one another no matter what, and then they continue on with their search. They come upon and old man who may be death himself.
The men are so anxious to find death that they do not see death when they are staring it in the face. Their drunken stupor makes them blind and easily allows death to trick them. The old man tells them where to find death: turn up this crooked way / towards that groove under a tree and there you ll find him waiting (Chaucer 117). So they continue their quest. Under the tree they find gold florins. No longer was it death these fellows sought or so they thought (Chaucer 118).
When the rioters do find the gold it dissolves their oath of brotherhood and puts them on their path to death. The gold immediately changes their plan of finding death to becoming rich. The sin of gluttony takes over in each man planning to kill the next. The old man, his words, and their pursuit are completely forgotten. This tale confirms what the Pardoner suggests in The Pardoner s Prologue; the sin of avarice leads to the sin of murder. The story begins with their search for death but soon changes to death s search for them.
They may stop lookin for death but death does eventually find them. The old man perhaps death or even death s spy tells the men exactly where to find death. He never says that it is in the physical form but the rioters assume it anyway. So when they find the gold florins they never imagine it could be death itself but it does eventually lead to each of their downfalls. What they find under that tree is gold, greed, treachery, and finally death. The rioters do get what they set out for even if it found them instead of them finding it.
Whoever the old man may be he is right about death being under that tree. The rioters are never aware of what they really find because of their greed. The Pardoner states that money is the root of all evil and proves it in his tale. This story leaves the reader wondering whether death is a physical form such as the old man, greed as in the gold, or deep within all of us.