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How effectively does Chaucer depict human nature and human folly in the Merchant's tale?

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Introduction

How effectively does Chaucer depict human nature and human folly in the Merchant's tale? "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today" JAMES DEAN January our main character of this tale shows a resemblance to this quotation, particularly in how it effects his behavior. What the late James Dean is trying to tell us simply is that try and make each day count, and never waste a minute because you could drop down dead. Now for most this appears to be a little dramatic lets say, but for January who has already outlived his peers and now sits at a grand age then it all becomes relevant. With this is mind we can look at how Chaucer has let January become the character he is partially down to the fact of his age. We know January is highly sexually driven there is no argument. Yet Chaucer leaves us believing this is down to his personality and character, his age is not used as a justifiable tool to any extent; so what if ...read more.

Middle

It is reinforced by the way he totally refuses to listen to Justinus, as he is the "truth" that he totally ignores. "A man can do and be what he wants" Lawrence of Arabia Whether you consider the quote to be arrogant or noble it is the way that January is portrayed to think by Chaucer. Although he is a bachelor right unto the point where he meets May and marries her, we have been given little or no real background to his life only where he lives, his age and that he chased women. The total expectation of a "young and fair" wife is surely meant to be interpreted as arrogance. Yet the way January voices his expectation one can perhaps drop the idea of arrogance and even pick up one of empathy. The reason this can be done is because the way which he prays to god for a wife and even remarks, "True as god is king to take a wife is a glorious thing". ...read more.

Conclusion

This by gives our squire a very fresh and immature feel, linking himself and May in their age and adolescence. When the two realize that each other likes one another they plot to meet up and this is where we first become aware of May deceitful and calculated side of her personality, Chaucer gives her the lead role out of the two, the dominant female. The use of January's secret and locked garden is presumably a reference by Chaucer to the Garden of Eden where woman tempted man, ironically the same happens here. The idea of May being the stronger willed of the young pair is made clear here as she guides Damien into the garden and then tells him to get up a tree to which he does with no hesitation. Chaucer then has her getting up to Damien upon her husbands back deep irony is played here as he is helping her cheat on him. Chaucer has also given May a very cruel and sadistic shade also because at this time January is blind and can therefore be portrayed as a victim of May. ...read more.

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