The Merchant's Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer
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What does the effect of the reference to gentillesse lines 704-716 of "The Merchant's Tale" have toward the audience of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales?

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The effect of “gentillesse” upon the audience in lines 704-716 of “The Merchant's Tale” is to make us aware of Januarie's nobility, one of the most important qualities of a knight.

The word “gentillesse” can also mean “graciousness” in that Januarie instructs his young wife May and all...

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The effect of “gentillesse” upon the audience in lines 704-716 of “The Merchant's Tale” is to make us aware of Januarie's nobility, one of the most important qualities of a knight.

The word “gentillesse” can also mean “graciousness” in that Januarie instructs his young wife May and all her ladies-in-waiting to go and visit Damyan, a young man with designs on May. But Januarie is blissfully unaware of Damyan's less than noble intentions towards his wife. All he knows is that Damyan is sick and requires comfort.

Although Januarie comes across as more than a tad naive in this section of “The Merchant's Tale,” we are nonetheless struck by his nobility, his graciousness, and his sheer decency. This is clearly a man who displays all the knightly virtues, even towards a man whom many would suspect—rightly so, as it turns out—of wanting to turn Januarie into a cuckold, a man cheated on by his wife.

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