What is an exemplum?
An exemplum is a short anecdote or story that illustrates a particular moral point. Developed in the late Middle Ages, this literary form was often used in sermons and other didactic literature. One famous example is Chaucer’s “The Pardoner’s Tale,” which focuses on the subject of greed. As you read the selection, pay attention to the actions of the characters and to the narrator’s description of his own practices.