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

Analyse the encomium on marriage showing how Chaucer reveals attitudes to marriage. How might a modern reader respond?

Extracts from this document...


Hannah Skehill Timed: 1hr Analyse the encomium on marriage showing how Chaucer reveals attitudes to marriage. How might a modern reader respond? An encomium is a formal expression of praise, a tribute. Chaucer makes use of this literary convention in his epic poem, 'The Merchant's Tale.' Through this encomium, which has been described by some critics to be 'one of the most amazing instances of sustained irony in all literature,' Chaucer reveals various attitudes towards marriage, through his use of language, style and irony. The fact that Chaucer has chosen an encomium in which to reveal to the audience different attitudes towards marriage, in itself conveys the attitude revealed. The sermon style immediately calls into question whether or not the digression is to be taken literally or if it is in fact used by Chaucer to ironically reveal to the reader the Merchant's true attitude towards marriage. The exaggerated language of praise supports this theory, as it can be seen as almost sardonic. ...read more.


Chaucer uses irony effectively here, to convey the Merchant's true attitude towards marriage. It can be seen that Chaucer expresses and reveals the Merchant's attitude towards marriage through his language throughout the encomium. The highly rhetorical and exaggerated style of speech suggests the insincerity of the Merchant. This is seen effectively when the Merchant praises marriage: "O bisful ordre of wedlock precious, Thou art so murye, and eek so virtuous," (L135-136) The language used here is almost hyperbolic, and to clearly convey the insincerity of the Merchant, Chaucer uses a rhetorical device called an apostrophe, where the narrator addresses an object. This is the tone and style of a sermon, highly suitable for the Merchant's exaggerated language. Through this technique, Chaucer is able to express the Merchant's real view of marriage. Chaucer's use of language also conveys to the audience the Merchant's attitude towards women within marriage. The Merchant uses the 'language of Merchants' and refers to wives as being made for a husband, much as Eve was Adam. ...read more.


It is through this that the audience is made aware of the insincere attitude in the encomium. This is further supported later in the poem, when Januarie talks of wishing to be 'wedded hastily.' Again, there is no mention of love between the couple, it is presented more so as a business transaction, linking to the language of the Merchant. Within the encomium, the Merchant praises the notion of an old man marrying a young woman of 'tendre of age.' It seems that Chaucer is displaying the almost lecherous attitude towards marriage held by some older men, as this is not a Medieval or Roman Catholic convention. Both a modern and Medieval audience would recognise the notion of an old man taking a young wife as unnatural. This goes against the Roman Catholic idea of marriage as a sacrament; it would have been seen as unnatural and wrong. The Merchant expresses the belief that this is acceptable and then goes on to use Biblical references in his encomium. Chaucer is using irony here, to undermine the Merchant's argument, as he is contradicting his beliefs. He is going against Catholic normalities, but yet cites examples from the Bible. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Geoffrey Chaucer essays

  1. "The merchant's tale presents a thoroughly cynical view of women and marriage" How far ...

    Both are synonymous to each other and have therefore parallel views on marriage. "She may be Goddes meene and Goddes whippe; Swifter than dooth an arew out of a bowe. I hope to God, hereafter shul ye knowe That ther nis no so greet felicitee" The cynical view of marriage is reinforced by Harry Bailey's comment at the end.

  2. What Does The Poem "My Last Duchess" Reveal About The Dukes Attitudes Towards Women?

    All these points, which show the Dukes unjust beliefs of how women should be treated, show him to be an over controlling and a very callous man, but inside he must have some feelings and care for his ex-wife as he has kept a painting of her?

  1. Did Attitudes Towards the Status of Women and Marriage Change in the Late- Middle ...

    Cyprian, a third century writer made virginity the distinguishing and unique mark of Christianity, which in turn made virginity a public affair as opposed to a private virtue. Cyprian's later contemporary; Ambrose conceived the idea that there were only two types of women in the world.

  2. The Merchant's Tale -summary

    Januarie serves as a vehicle for the Merchant, whose attitudes, opinions, and perceptions of women classify him undoubtedly as a motley-clad misogynist. Characteristically, he is a fool. Januarie is developed as a vehicle through the connection of teller to tale, textual implications of misogyny, and the limited sight (faulty or deliberate)

  1. How does the tale of the Merchant reflect the character of the Merchant himself?

    The Merchant's apparently unwitting intrusion of commercial linguistic patterns becomes the verbal equivalent of the attitudes about women as property, displayed by the knight, who believes he can purchase marital contentment. January is well aware that his 'great prosperitee' will enable him to buy the bride he desires despite his advanced years.

  2. In the novel "Broken April" by Ismail Kadare, the reader witnesses a relatively static ...

    entering the "shadow-land", a place "where the laws of death prevail over the laws of life." (Pg 69) Now although this is true to a slight extent, Bessian is exaggerating to his wife the enigmas surrounding the Northern high plateau.

  1. Post-1914 Prose - Raymond Carver (1938-1988) - Consider Carver's view on marriage.

    as a wife and as a woman ('I'd like to be touched when I'm not expecting it'); she has become humiliated by having to initiate physical contact in her marriage. As the story progresses, Mike falls asleep while Nan lays awake.

  2. The Marriage Debate.

    ententyf to keep him, syk and hool, as is his make' and has a desire to love and serve. At this point the Merchant himself intervenes to say that scholars, including the well-known classical misogynist Theofrastus, recommend a reliable servant as being more use than a wife, who is `only after thy good'.

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