The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Summoner and the Pardoner

The Summoner has a round, bright-red face covered with pimples, squinty eyes, black eyebrows, and a thin, ragged beard. He likes garlic, onions, and leeks, and the Prologue implies that he smells to high heaven as a result. He also likes strong red wine, but when he’s drunk he will only speak Latin, of which he knows only a few words. He knows how to swindle people in secret, and he uses his position as a Summoner (someone who issues legal summons ordering people to appear in court) to do that on a regular basis.

The Pardoner is a “gentle” man from Roncesvalles. He is good at singing and has long blond hair, which he does not wear a hood or cap to cover when he rides, because he thinks this is fashionable. He has no beard, and the Prologue compares him to a “mare” or a “gelding,” implying either that the Pardoner is a eunuch and/or is homosexual. (Some critics have argued that the Summoner and the Pardoner are in a relationship with one another.) He was a particularly crafty Pardoner who carried a number of false relics in order to convince people to part with their money.

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