The Pardoner’s Passing and How It Matters

07 Jun 2018

This article looks again at the gure of the Pardoner in the Canterbury Tales and reconsiders the possibility that ‘he’ is a woman passing as a man. The importance of such a reading is revealed by exploring the anxieties this raises over the relationship between outward appearance and inner substance or reality, and demonstrating parallels with medieval anxieties over the authenticity of relics and the validity of religious speech acts, including those involved in the transubstantiation of the elements of the Eucharist.