Marriage as Portrayed in The Merchants Prologue and Tale
The story of Januarie's marriage to May and her subsequent infidelity with Damyan allows for not only Chaucer's view of marriage to come through, but also includes the opinions of contemporary writers. Chaucer allows his views to be made known as the narrator and his views could also be said to infiltrate the speeches of the Merchant. Justinus and Placebo's views are also accounted for as the fictional characters also air their opinions on the institution of marriage. In this way, Chaucer has allowed for a fair deal of discussion of marriage.
Chaucer places the character of Januarie in Pavia, which has a reputation for brothels. In this somewhat uncouth place, Januarie …show more content…
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. This is somewhat different from Januarie's belief that marriage ends the small sorrows of love, "Where as thise bacheleris sing ëallasí". However, Damyan is not always the winner in the love triangle. At first he is bedridden with love sickness, burning with love for May. However, it is shown that St Paul believed that it was better to marry than to burn with lust.
The inclusion of Theophrastus, the author of "The Golden Book of Marriage", shows another view that preaches that women lead men to their doom. It can certainly be said that throughout the poem, Chaucer uses imagery of temptation and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Damyan is described as being "like to the adder in bosom sly untrue". While Januarie is physically blind, it can be said that he was blinded by his love, or lust, for May as they spent time in the garden. It is when Januarie becomes blind that we learn of his much more possessive nature with regard to nature. He would rather have May dead than any other man touch her. Chaucer builds up the dramatic tension by describing May's desperation for a younger partner who is more emotionally in tune with her while concurrently expressing Januarie's desperation to hold on to the piece of youth he
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One of the more comforting characteristics of human history is its overall lack of originality. People, regardless of location or situation, tend to act exactly as their predecessors did. It is with this nugget of knowledge that the current generation can look to the future with a certain sense of ease, knowing that it will probably be no different from the past they have read about in history books. This occurrence, the repetition of human nature throughout time, is no more evident than in a comparison of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and contemporary society. While Chaucer primarily used his writing to satirize the people of his day, he simultaneously and unwittingly satirized those of the future who share the same unfortunate circumstances. In Chaucer’s “The Miller’s Tale”, he uses infidelity and the relationship between husband and wife to ridicule marriage. In popular
The disparity in the outcomes of the hag's marriage and Alison's marriages in Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale" depends in part on the women's differing expectations of their husbands. The hag's modus agendi depends on a knight's obligation to honour his pledge, whereas Alison's modus operandi depends on her husbands' conduct after marriage, i.e. on her circumstances. Having saved the knight's life, the hag asks the knight to permit her to be his wife. Moreover, she wants to be his love. The knight must marry, since marrying the hag lies within his might. Since the hag's definition of being his wife includes her loving him, he is duty-bound to
To this the knight retorted with Biblical stories that state a man without a wife is bent on ruin. These stories cites the creation of Eve for Adam as proof that a wife is man's support, as well as examples of humble and devoted wives. January, wished to have a young wife of no older than thirty, for a young wife would be more pliable, but Placebo warned him that it takes great courage for such an aged man to take a young wife. He warned him of the misery that can come from taking a wife, for she could be shrewish or a drunkard, facts that a husband will not learn until well into the marriage. Despite the common opinion that Placebo has a wonderful wife, he knows what faults she has. They argue about the merits of marriage, with Placebo predicting that January will not please his wife for more than three years, but Placebo eventually assents to January's plan. January finally decided to take a young and pretty wife, foolishly believing that nobody would find fault with his choice. He spoke to Placebo and his friends about his choice, praising his intended wife. January, however, worries that a man who finds perfect happiness on earth as he would with his wife would never find a similar happiness in heaven, for one must choose between one perfect happiness and another. Justinus countered by stating that it is more likely that married men will get to heaven than single men. He muses that marriage might be January's purgatory.
He knew nat Catoun for his wit was rude, that bad man sholde wedde his similitude” (Lines 113-120). Absolon on the other hand just wanted sex, and as much Alisoun despised him he would not stop stalking her. The Miller’s tale is cynical, because love is either misguided or lust and humans often are confused between the two. The author wanted to point that humans must know the difference or else the outcome would most likely be devastating thus leading to one’s own fault. While others might say this theme was not about love, but more about sexual desires, it was not the case. Sexual desires was only part of the theme because sex has always been alined with love in every relationship good or bad. Chaucer want readers to get past the sexual imagery and look at the love theme which incorporated in this story. The love theme represented the trouble behind human minds and how lust can be confused as love.
Women of Chaucer’s time period were often seen as ditzy, dependent and whorish if they broke the conventional standards. Unlike the Wife of Bath, who Chaucer praises as “a worthy woman all her life” (106,469) because “her kerchief[s] were of finely woven ground” (105.464), “skill[ed] in wandering…” (106.478), and lastly her “lik[ing] to laugh and chat” (106.484). Chaucer exceeds the female stereotypes of the 1400s through the commending of her talent as a seamstress, her experience with traveling, and her love of being heard, all uncommon and negatively viewed traits of a woman. Chaucer proves her power and strength by utilizing progressive
Women should be at one with their being and be able to speak on social and psychic truths. Chaucer is an author that goes against what would be considered normal for this time period. He attempts to write as a female to represent a female perspective and enter into debate about the role of a woman. Stated in the text, “We can argue straightforwardly that women were marginalized and subordinate, that women lived and suffered under patriarchy.”(Treacher133). Women were viewed as being inferior. Are we to believe and follow the views created by men and for men? Chaucer is a man who creates a story told by a woman for woman and men. He seeks to show that women can speak up and does not need approval by men, “But that the Queen and other ladies as well implored the King to exercise his grace, so ceaselessly, he gave the Queen the case and granted her his life, and she could choose whether to show him mercy or refuse.” (Chaucer157). In the example, the King and the Queen represents at a higher power how a male and female is to be equal. It is shown that the Queen’s opinion and a woman’s opinion in general are just as important and purposeful as the King’s opinion. Chaucer uses the scenario of two powerful authority figures, the King and Queen, as an example for others to follow. The idea of the queen being able to make decisions concerning the knight, and the husband passing his power to his wife shows an equal relationship. The king and queen was used as a symbol that
In Geoffrey Chaucer's work, The Canterbury Tales, many travelers gather together to begin a pilgrimage. During their quest, each of the pilgrims proceed to tell a tale to entertain the group. From these stories arise four different tales, in which Chaucer uses to examine the concept of marriage and the problems that arise from this bonding of two people. In the tales of "The Franklin", "The Clerk", "The Wife of Bath", and "The Merchant", marriage is debated and examined from different perspectives. Out of the four tales, The Franklin's Tale presents the most reasonable solution to the marriage debate because the problems are resolved with the least amount of heartache.
Throughout literature, deep relationships can often be discovered between a story and the author who writes it. Relationships can also be found in stories about a husband and wife. In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales many of the characters make this idea apparent with the stories they tell. In “The Pardoner’s Tale”, a distinct relationship can be made between the character of the Pardoner and his tale of three friends. Also, the Wife in “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” boldly declares her relationship towards her husband.
Here we face a paradox, physically that is impossible, but spiritually they complete each other's life so that in marriage, they are one. We also see throughout these lines that she gives her marriage as an example "If ever two were one", "if ever man were loved by wife", "if ever wife was happy in a man". Compare with me ye women if you can. In this verse the poet seems boastful of her relationship; she calls out to women in a bragging manner.
The wife is also able to dominate her husbands by other methods, which she often recommends to other "wys wyfs". Here Chaucer is obviously appealing to his audience as there are no other wives on the pilgrimage but also the Wife may be suggesting that is not only her who acts in this manner therefore condoning it. She firstly accuses them of indecent behavior thus covering her own faults and then reverts back to nagging. Her ability to nag and argue is complemented by her knowledge of many parables, fables and even astrology and she uses this to get the upper hand on her husbands but is defeated by Jankin as a scholar at Oxford, which demonstrates the repression of women through lack of education.
Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath Prologue and Tale” focus on the story telling of a woman who has experienced her fair share of marital issues. She is depicted as a promiscuous woman, married five times and had plenty of male suitors, the Wife was not like any other woman during this era. Although her reputation was how most perceived her, she was not a fan of being scrutinized for what she considered as her duty as a woman; to not remain single. This is seen through the depiction of women in society, how marriage ought to be in the eyes of religion, and how men were to view a woman like her. The language that is used throughout Chaucer’s prologue and tale allude to the evolution of women as well as how they struggled to gain any recognition in
Everyone has a story. Certainly Chaucer believes so as he weaves together tales of twenty nine different people on their common journey to Canterbury. Through their time on the road, these characters explore the diverse lives of those traveling together, narrated by the host of the group. Each character in the ensemble is entitled to a prologue, explaining his or her life and the reasons for the tale, as well as the actual story, meant to have moral implications or simply to entertain. One narrative in particular, that of the Wife of Bath, serves both purposes: to teach and to amuse. She renounces the submissive roles of a woman and reveals the moral to her story while portraying women as sex seeking, powerful creatures, an amusing thought
love” makes evident Chaucer’s skewed views of love and marriage with underlying tones of misogyny. He expresses these views throughout the work, however, the theme of love and sex is most evident in the sub-stories of The Wife of Bath and The Miller’s Tale.
the Wife of Bath says that "thus the apostle Paul has told it me, and bade
Moving on to Chaucer’s second tale, there are many lessons to be taught about chivalry. This tale tells the story of a narcissistic knight that rapes a young woman alongside a river. Once King Arthur finds about this sin he demands the knights head. Fortunately, the knight is spared by the woman but in a redeemable manner. The knight is set out on a year long mission in order to answer one question- “what do women want the most?”. After the year long mission the knight returns and answers the question successfully. This answer the knight gives is what coincides with the prologue’s last lesson. “Women want the same self-sovereignty over her husband, as over her lover, and master him, he must not be above her”(Chaucer, 214-218). This saying, again, is addressing the balance in power within a relationship. There is no doubt that Chaucer believes a successful marriage needs a balance