Fictitious stories serve readers in two main ways: socially and individually. The Canterbury Tales is a collection of fiction and, therefore, serves both of these functions. Fiction can have many purposes in the two categories of social and individual function. A social function is the teaching of morals.

These morals can be taught by showing the "right" way or the "wrong" way according to society of the novel or the author. An individual function is pure entertainment. Many people read stories and novels simply for fun, just as a person might watch a television program. These two examples of fiction's functions are both evident in "The Pardoner's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales. In "The Pardoner's Tale," morals are expressed and the element of entertainment is present. The tale can be separated into two parts, both of which contain a moral.

First, the Pardoner exposes to people the things that are sinful so they will feel as though they have committed many sins, perhaps many more than they really have, so they want to repent. Then, the Pardoner cheats there people by selling fake relics as an instant remedy to the sins. This shows the Pardoner to be a hypocrite since he commits the same sins he preaches against. All of this is told in a negative light by the language of the tale. Second, the story within "The Pardoner's Tale" has three greedy men as its characters. All of them die.

This expresses the idea that greed is sinful. This tale is also good for entertainment. The story shows the Pardoner as a darkly humorous character because the reader is able to see how stupid he is. He explains that the relics he has are fakes, and then tries to sell them to the Host.

It is also entertaining to hear the story he tells which has plot twists, deception, and murder. However, the pilgrims would have chosen "The Wife of Bath's Tale" for the winning story. This is because it has the most complete character and has surprises as well, while giving a moral lesson.