• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Themes and Ideas in The Merchant's Tale

Extracts from this document...


Examine the opening of The Merchant's Tale, what themes / idea's does Chaucer concern himself with? The imagery in the general prologue tells Chaucer's audience the Merchant is skilled and wise 'full well his wit bisette' and Chaucer's use of language like 'forked berd' and 'in mottelee' not only portrays the Merchant in a precise way, but ensures that the readers think and feel the same way about the Merchant as Chaucer. In 'The Merchant's Tale' Chaucer concerns himself with many themes, amongst which are marriage, honesty, religion and women. The opening of the tale explores the Merchant's negative outlook on marriage and how bitterly he feels towards his wife 'I have a wyf, the worst that may be'. The initial impression given to the reader is that Chaucer believes marriage is mainly a man letting himself in for a life time of 'weeping and wailing' and Chaucer makes certain to the reader that if he had the chance to marry again, he wouldn't. ...read more.


Issues raised in the opening to the tale, when discussing marriage is if the knight suddenly realising he should get a wife, whether this be for security as he's reaching old age, or if it be for religious reasons. Religion is another theme Chaucer uses tastefully in the opening of the tale as 'man and womman', a biblical reference to Adam and Eve is mentioned and marriage is compared to 'paradis', the garden of Eden. Although this image of marriage being wonderful is being spoken by the knight, Chaucer is telling it through the Merchant. The confusing and interesting nature of this is that in the general prologue the Merchant doesn't have a good word to say about marriage, but he's telling this tale of a knight that was desperate to 'take a yong wif' and live a life of 'joye and solas', therefore implying marriage is not so bad. ...read more.


'What force though Theofraste liste lye? .. a trewe servant dooth moore diligence' claims Theofrast, but the knight, knowing Theofrast thinks a servent would be more faithful than a waife, still stays keen on the idea of marriage and we know this by the reference to the wedding vows 'keep him, sik and hool ... him to love and serve ... till he sterve' he regards marriage as important, and is being slightly feminist as he's reassuring the audience that a woman will always stick by her man, as she swears to it on their wedding day. Ultimately, Chaucer explores a variety of themes and issues in the opening of the Merchant's tale, and although he approaches marriage negatively, he seems to contradict himself when telling the story about the knight. Nevertheless, due to the general prologue and Chaucer's description of the Merchant with 'forked berd' shows him as a shady character, so however Chaucer seems to be portraying this knight, we know it's likely to change as the tale continues. ?? ?? ?? ?? Aisling O'Dea ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Geoffrey Chaucer section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Geoffrey Chaucer essays

  1. 'Merchant's Tale - Marriage'

    consulting the merchant's narration: ___________ 1 The Merchant's Prologue and Tale, l. 16 2 The Merchant's Prologue and Tale, l. 53 3 The Merchant's Prologue and Tale, l. 318 4 The Merchant's Prologue and Tale, l. 305 5 The Merchant's Prologue and Tale, l.

  2. English society of Chaucer's time

    Thomas a Becket preached and was murdered. By chance, 29 other pilgrims come trooping into the tavern, also headed for Canterbury. Chaucer chats with all of them, becomes part of their group, and decides to leave with them early the next morning.

  1. Analysis of lines 125 - 300 of The Merchant's Tale

    Judith saved her people by deceiving and slaying Holofernes, while Abigail saved her husband by making a marriage contract with David. Finally Ester also helped many Israelites. These references to women at first seem positive but it is known that these four women also led to the downfall of man.

  2. The franklins tale raises issues about what it really means to be "noble" ...

    At the end of the tale the Franklin asks the Question: "Which was the moste free, is thinketh you? By asking this question, Chaucer is saying which of the characters is the most generous. I believe it to be Averagus because although when he asks Doregin to hold her promise

  1. In what ways is The Merchant's Tale a response to The Clerk's Tale?

    greater demonstration of allegory as a result of the heavy dependence upon irony in the text, and the different ideals of the Merchant and the Clerk are made clear through the presentation of religion and marriage. Another prominent difference between the tales is the role and status of the wife in marriage, and her personal temperament.

  2. Select two or three portraits from the General Prologue and discuss Chaucer's use of ...

    question posed by the monk in his objection to work with a belief stated by Saint Austin that men should do manual labour because they would receive their reward in the afterlife. This can be construed as the monk not being knowledgeable on his beliefs simple implying the he has no belief in them what-so-ever.

  1. The pardoners prologue and Tale show human nature to lack any redeeming virtues ...

    Therefore, it was easy for corrupt churchmen, such as the Pardoner, to play on the weaknesses and fear of the pilgrims to feed their own greed. The prologue and the tale that the Pardoner tells highlights his lack of redeeming virtues, as well as the characters' in the exemplum novelle he narrates.

  2. With reference to lines 91-112 and 163-290, how are the rivals Nicholas and Absalon ...

    This displays his enjoyment of social mingling and his love of displaying his talent in singing and dancing for all to see in public places. By showing off his acting talent as Herod in the town 'he playeth Herodes upon a scaffold hye,' Chaucer creates a ridiculous image of Absalon's

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work