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How Effective Do You Consider Chaucer's Digression, Praising Marriage, To Be?

925 words - 4 pages

Although delaying the Merchant's tale, the digression adds humour and anticipation for the tale of the Merchant; while positioning us for interpretation of the tale. It is also a rebuttal of what has come before. At the beginning of 'The Merchant's Tale', Chaucer deviates from the story in order to praise marriage and to raise the question of the purpose of marriage. This could be interpreted as Chaucer's personal opinions of marriage or it may be a literary device, using heavy sarcasm and irony to emphasise the point of view of the Merchant. Chaucer may also have used this deviation from the story to contrast the Merchant's Tale to the other marriage tales in 'The Canterbury Tales'. The ...view middle of the document...

This use of hyperbole also expresses irony within the tale.The tale is particularly poignant as the Merchant tells it shortly after stating that he will no longer speak of his personal experiences of marriage. This makes the reader suspect that it is in fact a tale of his personal experience. At the beginning of the play the Merchant praises marriage and the Knight becomes progressively more committed to his ideas about wedlock;'May his herte in joy and blisse habounde'The Merchant's praise of marriage becomes increasingly unrealistic and therefore is perceived as sarcastic, once more demonstrating the Merchant's contempt towards marriage. The use of the words 'joy' and 'blisse' further exaggerate the irony and the audience is able to see the Merchant's real view of marriage. Through the Knight, The Merchant expresses what an inexperienced man would think were the benefits of marriage, and yet from the Merchant's prologue the audience is aware of the Merchant's real opinions of marriage based on his experience;'To kepe him, sik and hool'Chaucer uses the beginning of the Merchant's Tale to show that Januarie's knowledge of marriage stems from reading and listening to clerical teaching, rather than from personal experience, unlike that of the Merchant's knowledge;'Of which he Theofraste is oon of tho'Chaucer uses this to again highlight the irony between the Merchant's views of marriage and the views of marriage presented within the tale. Chaucer also emphasises the conflict between four different views; the...

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