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

Concentrating on lines 33-186, comment on the ways in which the theme of marriage is explored in the 'Merchant's Tale'

Extracts from this document...


Jenny Steadman Concentrating on lines 33-186, comment on the ways in which the theme of marriage is explored in the 'Merchant's Tale' The theme of marriage runs throughout the whole of Chaucer's poem, a serious topic on which Chaucer wrote well and often. It could be argued that the views on marriage that are highlighted are those of the poet himself and that the fictional character of the Merchant is used as the poet's mouthpiece. When looking at the theme of marriage in the section, I clearly found a number of different attitudes including that of cynicism. I am going to discuss some of these attitudes in this essay and comment on the way in which the theme of marriage is explored. In the opening lines of the poem, the merchant begins to tell us the story of Januarie, for 60 years he lived without a wife and was satisfied with the life he had but he had a strong will to be married. ...read more.


We see the use of the sermon technique being used by Chaucer as the merchant speaks, this is to engage the audience. From line 126 onwards we see the view of both the merchant and Januarie, if a man was to be poor, his wife would help him by working, she should be virtuous and merry and he prays to god that he will not be deceived. From reading the tale we know that his wife will deceive him. Line 150 and onwards we see another intertexual reference, again to the bible. This states that even biblical idols have been deceived. This is Chaucer preparing his audience for deceit and it reinforces the merchant's view on marriage. In this sense the merchant can be see as blasphemous if the lines where meant sarcastically. "By good conseil delivered out of wo the peple of God, and made him Mardochee Of Assuere enhaunced for to be." ...read more.


Chaucer uses the different characters to show the many different views of marriage. We see Januarie believing that he should marry a young wife quickly as it is the most important thing to do to make his life happy and complete before he dies. Marriage is the only place to have children and this is another reason for him wanting to be married, as he wants an heir. The view of the merchant is somewhat confusing, in the beginning he tells his audience that he wishes that he wouldn't have married his wife as she is a "shrew" but then we see him telling us to defy the words of Theophrastus. Theophrastus believes that marriage is the worse thing to do. Women deceive and are untruthful and that a servant would be more loyal. The differing views of Placebo and Justinus show the split mind of Januarie one view being not to marry and the other just to please him. Personally i think that Chaucer's view would be that of the merchant, as he seems to use his character as a mouthpiece to show his views on marriage. ...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. How does the tale of the Merchant reflect the character of the Merchant himself?

    very own identification turns back on the Merchant as his own narrative progressively reveals January not only as a misogynist but a violent man. Furthermore the discourse of commerce that permeates the tale creates another level of association between the Merchant and January's deplorable behavior that reflects negatively on the speaker.

  2. "What do the first 149 lines of the Merchant's prologue and Tale tell us ...

    He appears to have an unhappy and turbulent relationship revealed through his verdict "I have a wife the worste that may be" (L, 6). It seems that his wife does not comply with the ideal concept of women during this period; she is unlike the submissive and virtuous 'Grisildis' (L, 12).

  1. The Miller's Tale: Lines 364-489

    "Sely" John's foolishness is also shown by the fact he never questions why God has chosen Nicholas to be saved. This shows not only his stupidity, but Nicholas' skill in convincing John that he should be saved, and is in fact on a par with Noah.

  2. It is impossible to feel either sympathy or admiration for any of the characters ...

    has already won her over with his close proximity and crude advances. It is arguable that Chaucer sets Absolon up to be ridiculed, however it is through Absolon's wooing techniques that Chaucer invites the reader to ridicule his position. .

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

    The husband's growing awareness of the rain leads him to think of time passing. As the night carries on, the couple reflect on the past, ('remember when you got me this?'); distant memories give them the pleasure of remembering how they used to live.

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

    Never straying from the hand that feeds it. He also believes that patience is an extremely important virtue in a wife and that she should never tire of pleasing her husband. In fact he dedicates a section on the ways in which a woman can win back the affections of her husband after he has been unfaithful.

  1. Chaucer - The story of Januarie's marriage to May and her subsequent infidelity with ...

    Placebo sycophantically echoes the only concerns in Januarie's mind for a young and mouldable wife. While Januarie firmly believes that marriage is the road to a joyful life, Chaucer later allows the bachelor to have a good time while the married man suffers.

  2. The Juxtaposition of the sacred and the erotic is typical of the miller's style ...

    This implies that wives had affairs in those days. The analogy between the two would have been blasphemous in the Middle Ages therefore the moral pilgrims such as the Knight and the Parson would have been shocked by this. However, the monk and the friar should be offended too as

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