A Contractual Hit on Death

by M-Gillies

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) is known as the father of English literature.

Written near the end of the fourteenth century, The Canterbury Tales is a collection of Middle English stories by Geoffrey Chaucer about a diverse group of individuals of different social classes on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. During their travels, they tell tales of love and death, but most notably of them all, is the Pardoners Tale, which tells the story of three men who set out on a journey to kill Death.

The tale begins after three drunken men, upon seeing a funeral procession for their friend, blame Death and set out on a conquest to kill Death as retribution.

During their travels, they come across an old man, who tells them he has seen Death, and has even asked to be taken, but remains alive. He then directs the men to an Oak tree, where he tells them Death can be found at the root of the tree.

When the men arrive, they find a large amount of gold coins, and soon forgetting their quest to kill Death, draw straws to see which of the three shall get food and wine for the night.

After drawing the shortest straw, the youngest of the three departs from the group to get food and wine, leaving the other two to conspire his death.

Upon his return, the two men overpower the youngest and kill him. As they rejoice, they begin drinking the wine, which the youngest had poisoned, killing the other two, thus allowing all men to find Death.

Read more:

The Canterbury Tales | Michael Murphy – Brooklyn College

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