The Pardoner and the Parson are two very different characters in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales". The Pardoner is a church official who sells pardons, or religious indulgences, to people seeking forgiveness for their sins. He is portrayed as a con artist who is more concerned with his own material wealth than the spiritual well-being of the people he is supposed to serve. Chaucer describes the Pardoner as having "a voice as smooth as oil" and "a false, deceitful look". The Pardoner is depicted as a greedy and immoral individual who uses his position in the church to exploit the fears and vulnerabilities of others.
In stark contrast to the Pardoner is the Parson, who is depicted as a good and virtuous clergyman. The Parson is said to practice what he preaches and live a simple life, unencumbered by material wealth or luxury. Chaucer describes the Parson as "a poor man, but rich in holy thought and work". The Parson is shown to be deeply dedicated to his flock and is depicted as a model of true spiritual guidance and morality.
The contrast between the Pardoner and the Parson serves to highlight the differences between false absolution and true spiritual guidance. The Pardoner represents the corruption and greed that were commonly associated with the church at the time, while the Parson represents the ideals of a virtuous and dedicated clergyman. Through these two characters, Chaucer explores the themes of corruption and morality in the church and society.
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