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Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – Marriage as Portrayed in Merchant’s Prologue and Tale

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 is in a self-imposed race against time to find a wife. At 60 years old, Januarie is getting married simply because he feels that he should before he dies and believes that, like St Paul says, to get married purely in order to avoid sin, is perfectly reasonable. Januarie wants a wife of “warm wex” in order to be able to ply her to his own demands and needs. His friends would have liked to have advised Januarie further on his choice of wife, however there was no time. Januarie sees the marriage very much as a business transaction and he uses his friends to scour the land for suitable women as it is a quicker way of finding the best deal.

Like Januarie, Justinus is concerned with the economic ideals of the union. However he does have further concerns as to the age difference that will occur. He soon sees the possibility of infidelity on the wife’s part. Unlike Januarie who quite simply requires a pretty face and a weak character, Justinus advises that the woman should have “Mo goode thewes than …

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…nfidelity is wrong. The Merchant says little about the business like manner in which the marriage took place, but has more to say about the untrustworthy nature of women, his cynicism from his own relationships showing through his occasional selections of Biblical references to deceitful women such as Rebecca and Judith. The Tale’s own deceitful woman, May, yearns for a more emotional relationship and believes that she finds this with Damyan. However, he holds what appears to be a more typical male view of marriage. It is much more enjoyable to be a bachelor and to have no ties. May’s only emotional links with him, such as the letters they exchange, have to be disposed of in the privy. The mercantile, unromantic nature of marriage seems to be prevalent in most men’s minds as women cannot be trusted unless perhaps under some kind of bond other than purely spiritual.

gatdream The Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby Great Gatsby Essays

The Great Gatsby: The Dream Jay Gatsby, the central character of F. Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby symbolizes the American dream. The American dream offers faith in the possibility of a better life. Its attendant illusion is the belief that material wealth alone can bring that dream to fruition. Through Gatsby, Fitzgerald brings together both these ideas. Jay Gatsby thinks money is the answer to anything he encounters. He has the best of everything. The fanciest car, the largest house, and the finest clothes. Jay has everything except the object he most desires, Daisy. Gatsby believes he can win Daisy over with wealth, that he could achieve the ideal she stood for through his material possessions. One look at Gatsbys past and it could be seen that he was destined to get ahead in life. Mr. Gatz told Nick, Jimmy was bound to get ahead. He always had some resolves like this or something. Do you notice what hes got about improving his mind? He was always great for that. He told me I et like a hog once and I beat him for it (182). Gatsbys determination to gain a large bankroll is a huge part of the American dream. He believes that once he achieved his financial goal it would lead to a better life. In America the car is one of the greatest status symbols. Gatsbys gorgeous machine is one of the most majestic cars created. Nicks comments on the vehicle describe its luster, …and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hatboxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes…Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of leather conservatory we started towards town (68). The use of the symbolic automobile can be seen as a demonstration of how an ideal based on materialism alone can be destructive. This was the fatal car which kills Myrtle Wilson and indirectly leads to Gatsbys death. Appearance is another important factor toward Gatsbys dream. In his quest to win Daisys heart Gatsby chooses to wear his best outfit. …the front door opened nervously and Gatsby in a white flannel suit, silver shirt and gold colored tie hurried in (89). Silver and gold are the colors of wealth, Gatsbys sartorial splendor is as lavish as any of the other items he owns. Gatsbys shirts are more then just garments towards Gatsby. They are some of the many fascinating objects he possesses that were created by money. These shirts contribute towards Gatsbys vision of the American dream, that his money and belongings will create happiness for him. Another major object of Gatsbys dream was his incredible house. Jay states to Nick and Daisy, My house looks well, doesnt it? See how the whole front of it catches the light (95). Jay gave Nick and Daisy the grand tour of his house showing of all of his worldly possessions. Room after room, everything was shown and mentioned. At the sight of his piles and piles of shirts Daisy broke down. Theyre such beautiful shirts, it makes me sad because Ive never seen such–such beautiful shirts before (98). Jay Gatsbys ideals were parallel to the typical American dream. He wants to claim his objective by the use of his assets. He thinks that his money will give him happiness in life through love and his personal belongings. Even the richest man in the world cant have everything. Material wealth could provide many things for Jay Gatsby but not the thing he most desired. Although his wealth drew Daisy closer to him, he never truly could have possessed her heart. He demanded Daisy to state that she had never loved Tom Buchanan. Oh, you want too much! she cried to Gatsby, I love you now–isnt that enough? I cant help whats past. I did love him once–but I loved you too. (139-140). Jays true love still remained with her uncaring husband, Tom. Jay Gatsbys dream was smashed when he found out that even all of his assets werent enough to woo Daisy to him. Jay Gatsbys belief in the American dream keep him from realizing reality. He believes that if he worked hard enough and made enough money that he could have anything. He wants to perceive the world as a place where sufficient wealth would enable him to recapture and recreate the past he desired with Daisy. Gatsby began planning for his dream when he was young. This can be seen from his journal he wrote as a young man which was discovered by Mr. Gatz. His attempt to accomplish his dream with cars and shirts could not have been successful. The American dream cannot be accomplished, money is just one factor towards happiness in this world.

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