Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Marriage as Portrayed in Merchant's Prologue and Tale

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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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