By Robert S. Sturges (auth.)
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Extra resources for Chaucer’s Pardoner and Gender Theory: Bodies of Discourse
26 CHAUCER'S PARDONER AND GENDER THEORY Two examples should suffice. In the opening poem, Alan says: Actiui generis sexus se turpiter horret Sic in passiuum degenerare genus. Femina uir factus sexus denigrat honorem, Ars magice Veneris hermafroditat eum. Predicat et subicit, fit duplex terminus idem. Gramatice leges ampliat ille nimis. Se negat esse uirum Nature, factus in arte Barbarus. [The active sex shudders in disgrace as it sees itself degenerate into the passive sex. A man turned woman blackens the fair name of his sex.
Unlike the knights ofWalsingham's chronicle, made passive by the peasants' usurpation of power, Chaucer's Knight, at the conclusion of Fragment VI, steps in to repair the relations between the Pardoner's attempted usurpation and the Host's authority with another kind of kiss: But right anon the worthy Knyght bigan, Whan that he saugh that al the peple Iough, "Namoore of this, for it is right ynough! Sire Pardoner, be glad and myrie of cheere; And ye, sire Hoost, that been to me so deere, I prey yow that ye kisse the Pardoner.
Is there any suggestion that his mannerisms are effeminate-if anything, his bravura could be reckoned masculine"; but on the other, that "[t]he Pardoner ... " 6 The Pardoner does not exactly cross genders in the way Lorber describes; rather, and more disturbingly, he engages in contradictory gender presentations or performances simultaneously, making it impossible to fix him as primarily masculine or feminine. " 7 It is impossible to discuss gender without referring to bodies and acts. But while most Chaucerians have focused on the latter two issues in their discussions of the Pardoner, it may nevertheless still be useful to try and consider gender, at least briefly, as a social practice not quite identical with bodies and acts, fraught with difficulties though such an attempt must be.