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Word Count: 829
The debate surrounding marriage is a central theme of both the Merchants Tale and of the wider Canterbury Tales Chaucer gives us a variety of opinions on the subject without ever overtly expressing his own The Merchant is extremely cynical about the institution of marriage He feels that he has been trapped in the snare of holy matrimony and that his shrewe of a wife has caused him constant misery In the tale that the Merchant relates foolish January is deceived by his young wife which reflects the Merchants own anti-feminism Chaucers treatment of the Merchant certainly does not suggest that he agrees with this viewpoint but neither does he seem to condone Mays behaviour There is therefore a certain degree of ambiguity concerning Chaucers view of marriage The Merchant is fiercely and bitterly opposed to marriage He bases this view on his own experiences of wedlock of just this monthes two Having been married for such a short time himself the Merchant is remarkably resolute in his judgement of the moore part Sitting hye on horse he is a proud obstinate character who gives his opinions ful solempnely Throughout his tale there is an underlying tone of bitterness and cynicism Given the Merchants own anti-feminist view of marriage it is unsurprising that May deceives her foolish old husband Indeed the Merchant uses his tale in an attempt to justify his opinions on marriage The view of marriage presented by the Merchant does not necessarily constitute Chaucers After all marriage is a recurring theme in many of his tales with various characters presenting different opinions on the matter The Merchant is the fictional narrator of one tale whereas Chaucer is the writer of them all Sowninge alwey thencrees of his winning the Merchant is not described in particularly favourable terms Chaucers assertion that I noot how men him calle sees him disassociating himself from the Merchant and possibly from his views on marriage as well
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