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What impression do you think Chaucer is trying to convey to us before we encounter the actual 'Merchant's tale' itself.

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Introduction

Sophie Johnstone 12CO What impression do you think Chaucer is trying to convey to us before we encounter the actual 'Merchant's tale' itself. Chaucer introduces the reader to the Merchant within 'The Merchant's Prologue' and 'Portrait of the Merchant'. Chaucer immediately establishes the first person description, which creates the impression that there are more direct opinions in the text. He constructs the idea of a fine figure that appears to be wealthy and successful, he does this by providing a vivid description of his appearance. The merchant is depicted as being smartly dressed, which suggests he is a person of some importance, "Upon his heed a Flaundrish bever hat". However it is soon exposed that this is just a mask to disguise who he really is. The posture he has while sat on his horse highlights the dignified feeling he has about himself, "In mottelee, and high on horse he sat;" Once his true self is revealed, this posture actually seems to resemble arrogance. ...read more.

Middle

However, he insists on discussing his wife, "I have a wyf, the worste that may be;" He talks selectively of his 'winnings' and conceals the fact he is in debt, which is seen as dishonest. Chaucer intends to insults the merchant, as the merchant deceives other pilgrims into believing that he is a completely different person and Chaucer acknowledges the reader of his secret life, "Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette". Chaucer may have a particular merchant in mind when writing it and he may be inviting the reader to guess his name, so he may be writing of a person he knows and generally dislikes. The merchant claims to have full knowledge of everything to do with marriage, "Assaye whoso wole, and he shal finde". Irony is also created here as the merchant then claims he has only been married two months, "Thise monthes two, and moore nat, pardee", and yet he still believes that still believes he knows everything possible, which involves marriage. ...read more.

Conclusion

The merchant is disillusioned with the idea of marriage and cannot seem to say one positive comment about his wife, "For thogh the feend to hire ycoupled were". It is evident that he is in complete despair of his wife and has no explanation, "I wolde nevere eft comen in the snare". He doesn't tell the tale of his own marriage, but instead uses it as a starter point, "Gladly, quod he, but of myn owen soore" and he concludes that all married men have a similar mind as himself. However, this is not Chaucer's view towards marriage, I feel he is using the merchant to portray a very common view towards women and marriage. Chaucer obviously has very little regard for the merchant and he encourages the reader to agree with him. ...read more.

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