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

The Role of Women in the Miller's and Merchant's Tale.

Extracts from this document...


The Role of Women in the Miller's and Merchant's Tale. * We can comfortably read Chaucer's The Merchant's Tale, as a tale about a deluded, old husband who is cuckolded by his young, resourceful wife. Like Chaucer's other fabliaux The Miller's Tale, The Merchant's Tale relies upon conventional comedic oppositions between old, ignorant husband and young, resourceful wife to inform its narrative on adultery. Like the plot of The Miller's Tale, within The Merchant's Tale January's wife, May, constructs an elaborate ruse to allow for an adulterous tryst with Damian, her secret liaison. May leads her (temporarily blind) husband to their fruit garden - in which Damian is hiding within a pear tree - so that she may climb upon his back and enter the tree. Yet soon after the tryst begins, January recovers his sight and sees the adultery. Like Alison in The Merchant's Tale, May elides recriminations from her husband. But how does she achieve this elision? Alison's avoidance of recriminations stems from her husband's ignorance over the adultery. ...read more.


We can see her childish immaturity in the scenes where she lets Absalom "kiss" her. We do not learn the details of her marriage such as her feeling toward John, her husband. We simply know that it is a mis-matched marriage with a large age gap between them. * May is not described in much detail compared to Alison. She is simply young, meek and beautiful. The disgusting details of her marriage though are clearly shown. January makes speeches about his desire to consummate his marriage and loathingly promises to take his time. We are with May when the real horror she feels at having to sleep with January is described: "But God woot what that May thoughte in hir herte/ Whan she hym saugh up sittynge in his sherte/ In his nyght-cappe, and with his nekke lene" (IV. 1851-53). This quote follows distasteful descriptions of January who eagerly awaits May in bed. The reader is privy to none of this with Alison. * It does not take much persuasion on Nicholas' part to talk Alison into having an affair with her. ...read more.


2388-89). How ridiculous and awful that January believes her explanation. * Therefore we can see while both stories have similar elements, the Miller's Tale is straight comedy. The reader is not shown the emotions of the characters. Alison is not a fully developed character. She is and stays what she was described as in the beginning of the tale: an eighteen-year-old wild girl. The tale is more a parody on courtly love. * In contrast, in the Merchant's Tale the reader is shown the disgusting details of January's motives and subsequent marriage. May's character is more fleshed out, the assaults against her explicitly shown. We may feel sorry for the carpenter but January never gets our sympathy. * The authorial condemnation of May also departs from the other fabliaux of the Canterbury Tales. Like Alison of the Miller's Tale, she is crafty, but May is also wicked. She escapes without punishment from her husband, but unlike the Miller's Tale this is not a satisfactory conclusion. While the Miller's Tale prized cunning and crafty behaviour, the Merchant's Tale adheres to more traditional values. Therefore, May's escape from punishment is a dissonant element of the story, for she behaves contrary to the established values that the Merchant has set for his tale. ...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. Chaucer: Satire And Humor

    Strangely, the Pardoner's description is the longest and most vivid (Ferster 36). The Pardoner's job was that he was too go around and give out pardons from the church. However, this wasn't the Pardoner's main concern. All the Pardoner cared for was money.

  2. The Merchant's Tale -summary

    The previously cited passage in which January is seeking a bride is significant because it plays on the theme of sight and reinforces the connection of the Merchant to January. In the passage, January "shops" for his bride by scouring the market-place, much like a merchant would comparison-shop to evaluate his options before purchasing a specific item.

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

    The tale of January and May must call up for the reader not only the Merchant's relation to his own tale but also other marriages, other husbands and wives discussed on various fictive levels in the poem, the 'Wife of Bath' and the characters in the 'Clerk's Tale' and the 'Miller's Tale' figuring as exemplary among them.

  2. How Does Chaucer Present The Miller To Become Such A Vivid And Vibrant Character

    pilgrimage, perhaps because they are all going for the same reasons even if they don't admit it. The miller unknowingly starts a random order, after this tale the other pilgrims tell their stories disregarding social status. The miller's tale comes before the reeve's tale.

  1. 'One of the best short stories in English.' Discuss Chaucer's narrative skills as shown ...

    The story develops far beyond the strict demands of its sermon-frame, as can be seen from the entire opening section, in which the rioters are confronted by the personification of Death and set out with drunken bravado, like knights on a fantastic adventure, to kill Death.

  2. Compare and Contrast the Short Stories "Turned", "To Please his Wife" and "An Alpine ...

    The author seems to consider women's independence a good thing. In "To Please his Wife" the independent woman is Joanna. She wants to become rich instead of "rubbing on" as she puts it. She manipulates Shadrach, her husband; the text says "Jolliffe agreed with her, in this as in everything else".

  1. 'Chaucer was a friend to all women' How much does the Franklin's tale back ...

    However, whether the method by which he does this is of a man who considers himself equal to his wife, and thinks of her feelings as paramount is open to opinion. He tells her she must stick to her trouthe, and fulfil her promise to Aurelius.

  2. Chaucer's Art of Characterization

    Characterization by Individual and Type Method Chaucer?s most superb technique is his presentation of Characters as individuals and types. The Characters are not only representatives of their respective classes and professions but also at the same time they possess individual traits.

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