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Where is there evidence of excessive sex, violence and money in "The Merchant's Tale"...
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Elementary School Teacher
[You've left few clues as to whether you are studying Chaucer in Middle English or contemporary English translation. To be on the safe side, I'll give quotes in both, as I usually work in Middle English.]
"The Merchant's Tale" begins with allusions to excessive sex. The Knight Januarie is described as having lived to the age of sixty without having married and as having fulfilled his physical "appetyt" (appetite) with various women as he pleased:
36 And sixty yeer a wyflees man was hee,
And folwed ay his bodily delyt
On wommen, ther as was his appetyt,
36 And sixty years a wifeless man was he,
And followed ever his bodily delight
In women, whereof was his appetite,]
In what is perhaps poetic justice for his choices and actions, Maia, Januarie's wife, later practices from his own pattern and provides another example of excessive sex when she and Damyan get caught up the tree:
1140 And sodeynly anon this Damyan
Gan pullen up the smok, and in he throng.
1140 For of a sudden this said Damian
Pulled up her smock and thrust both deep and long.]
Reference to actual acts of violence is a little harder to pin down. Januarie is a knight and as such has fought in many battles, which, by definition, all included excessive violence. Also, we are told about Damyan's secret violent reaction and feelings in regard to Januarie's new bride Maia:
576 O Januarie, dronken in plesaunce
In mariage, se how thy Damyan,
Thyn owene squier and thy borne man,
Entendeth for to do thee vileynye.
576 O January, drunk of pleasure's brew
In marriage, see how now your Damian,
Your own trained personal squire, born your man,
Wishes and means to do you villainy.]
As to references or allusions to excessive money, it is made clear in the text that Januarie is a knight of some considerable wealth. In the opening Chaucer describes him as being a knight of wealth:
A worthy knyght, that born was of Pavye,
35 In which he lyved in greet prosperitee;
A worthy knight, born in Pavia,
35 And there he lived in great prosperity;
He also describes Januarie as having an "estate," which indicates an excess of money. Also, the fact that he has a secret walled garden guarded by Pluto on his estate, to which he takes May, indicates strongly that he has an excess of money:
815 To his degree was maked as a kynges.
Amonges othere of his honeste thynges,
He made a gardyn, walled al with stoon;
815 Befitted his condition as a king's.
Among the rest of his luxurious things
He built a garden walled about with stone;]
Posted by kplhardison on April 29, 2012 at 2:54 AM (Answer #1)
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