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Flashcards in The Merchants Tale Deck (9)
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The merchants prologue

The merchant claims that he weeps frequently due to his wife, as do many other married men.
He says his wife is the worse in the world, she would over power the devil. He doesn't want to go into it in detail, she is simply a complete shrew. She is the polar opposite of patient Griselda.

He wouldn't fall into the trap of marriage again. Others can try it if they wish and not all are awful

He has been married two months and has suffered more than a single man who has been stabbed through the heart.

Host - tell us about it

Merchant - okay I will, but not of my own strife as I feel so wretched.


The merchants tale - section 1

In Lombardy there lived a wealthy and honourable knight. He had been a bachelor for 60years, sleeping with any women he desired.

As he turned 60 he desired he wanted to - either out of religious piety or senility I do not know, to marry. He was constantly looking for w wife and praying that he could experience the holy bond in which God bound man and woman. He thought marriage must be so comfortable and pure it would be heaven on earth.

When a man is old his wife is his ultimate treasure. She must be young and bake to bear him an heir. A married man is happier than an unmarried man as his wife is obedient creating order, not the instability of beasts.

Wife will care for him when sick and bedridden. THEOPRATES disagrees, says a servant will work harder to maintain estate and friends to keep you well as wife will already inherit and will cuckold you.
But do not listen to them, listen to me for marriage is the purest joy on earth. God curse his bones. Marriage is the only true gift from God, all else is fortune and will not last. Wife May last longer than you desire.

Unmarried men = lonely. God gave man Eve to be his helper, wife is for comfort and help of man. Obedient and virtuous.
Hoe can there be misfortune if married? She will never say no only at nice my lord. Helps with household
Every,an should thank god on his knees for sending him a wife and hope she stays with him till death

Wife gives stability unknown to unmarried men.

Should always do as wife advises - Rebecca helped advised Jacob. Cato says let your wife speak and she will be obedient. Love your wife as God loved the church.
So closely bound nothing can harm them.


The merchants tale - section 2

January called friends and told them the plan. He said that he wanted to marry to rectify the waste of his body. He asks them to look for a bride but stipulates that she can't be older than 20. He is like a pike that gets better with age but she must be like tender veal
He won't have widow as mischievous
If she was old he would be adulterous, not have children and be damned.
He wants someone he can mould like wax
Rather be eaten by dogs then let inheritance go to stranger

If cannot abstain it is better to marry and have sex for procreation, or live as brother and sister. Although the latter isn't like him 'God be thanked' for his Lymbes are stark and suffisant to do all a man bilingeth to do. His limbs are like an evergreen.
He is like a tree that produces blossom before the fruit.

Placebo said January's desire to get a wife was very wise. He had worked in court with wise men for a very long time and never disagreed with them as all very wise. It is courageous to take a younger wife and Christ would be satisfied.

Justinus said need to think carefully about obtaining a wife. Think of virtues and vices. Careful who is in possession of body and state. I have wept since marrying, I am told she is loyal but I suspect I have been cuckolded. If you marry a young wife you will be cuckolded within three years because you will not be able to please her.

J - I care not for this Seneca and homespun wisdom. Wiser men then you have supported me - placebo?
P - those who prevented marriage are damned.


The merchants tale - section 3

January dreams of beautiful figures and faces, as if someone had placed a polished mirror in a market place. He thought of all the women in the town but could not choose. Some had excellent reputations, others beautiful, others wealth. Eventually he - without discussing with anyone - decided on May because love is blind. In bed he day dreamt of her beauty, slim arms, waist, sensibleness, womanly demeanour. He thought she could be not bettered and no one intelligent enough to to diswade him.

He called his friends and begged them not to raise objection to his decision as it was pleasing to God. He said he wanted to marry may even though she was of low rank. Wanted to marry her so could be in comfort and virtue and thanked God that he wouldn't have to share her with anyone else. He asked them to help arrange the marriage so he wouldn't fail.

He was concerned that he might find such joy in marriage he wouldn't be able to reach salvation as he will have had his heaven on earth. Justinus could not stand this and replied with irony that God may be so great as to give him woe in marriage as soon as he leaves the church, God may give married men more reason to repent than unmarried men, she might be your purgatory. No happiness to stop salvation as long as you do not overindulge her.

J and P could see no other option so they went to try and arrange May's marriage.


The merchants tale - section 4

May endowed to land and got a splendid turn out. Priest told her to be like Sarah and Rebecca in wisdom and steadfastness of marriage. Blessed them with the cross and said prayers in accordance to liturgurical use and fully confirmed their marriage with all holiness.

They married in great pomp. They sat at the high table, there was joy, better music than Orpheus, the best food in Italy, Bacchus everywhere, Venus dancing so joyfully as January was to prove his passion in and out of marriage. Hymen never saw a happier married couple and Marcian could not have described the joy.

When tender youth marries stooping age there is such joy it is impossible to describe, try it yourself if you don't believe me.

May shined like a beautiful may morning and January was enchanted by her. He thought menacingly of how he would hold her tighter than Paris Helen. He felt some remorse that he would have to violate her and worried that she would not cope as his passion was so enthusiastic and violent. Yet he wanted to give her his best performance. He tried to encourage the guests to leave.

Damian was out of his mind in agony as lovesick for May, so badly had Venus burnt him with her torch whilst dancing. I will leave him here weeping until may takes pity. O dangerous fire, o enemy - God protects us from your acquaintance. No worse plague than to have your enemy constantly living in your home.

Night fell like a coarse robe and the guests left. January drank aphrodisiacs. Bride conducted to the bed still as a stone. The priest blessed, everyone left and January began to kiss and caress may, his prickly beard sharp as a thorn bush against her tender skin. He apologised for having to violate her but said you can sin no more in marriage as can wound yourself with your own knife. He said cannot be fast and skilful so will take their time, he laboured until dawn then ate and sang and chatted, the loose skin on his neck shaking.

Who knew what may thought
Didn't give a bean for his performance
Stayed in room 4 days as is customary as every enterprise needs a rest.


The merchants tale - section 5

Damian write a letter for May claiming he was dying of desire. He kept it next to his heart. May and January go to dinner and after asking after him and hearing he is ill, January commends Damian to May and asks her to go and visit him after dinner. May goes and Damian gives her the letter,smithing and whispering not to betray him or else he is dead. On her return she pretends to go to the loo, reads the note amazed and throws it down the loo.

She lies down softly next to January. He awakes coughing and then tells her to remove clothes as he wants sexual gratification and they are getting in the way. Won't describe but whether she thought it heaven or hell is hard to say.

If fate, stars, chance or nature may was so moved by January that she thought she loved him more than anyone else. See how pity runs swiftly in a noble heart? You witness here that there is a supreme liberality in women.

She wrote a letter back to him granting mercy, said they just needed to find a time and a place where she could satisfy him. When she went to visit she placed it under his pillow and squeezed his hand secretly.

Damian is cured. Everyone likes him and he is cunning which gets you everywhere.


Merchants tale - section 6

Some view happiness as sensual pleasure, as does January I'm aknighly fashion and he puts everything into it. Clothes = regal. Built a beautiful walled garden more beautiful than Roman de la rose could describe. Only he had the key.

He often took may there in the summer to complete any unfinished business from bed. They passed many a happy day in this way.

Suddenly, deceiving nature! January becomes blind. He weeps and becomes incredibly possessive, wishing someone would kill them both. However, as he realises it is irreversible he becomes less miserable but still us very possessive of May. He will not let her go anywhere without him holding on to her hand. May went as she lived Damian so much she thought she would drop dead for not seeing him. Damian became the most unhappy man that had ever lived as could not make plans.

They passed notes and used body language to communicate. Even if January had been able to see he would be as blind with eyes, like argus.


Merchants tale - section 7

May made a mould of the key to the garden and Damian the counterfeit. Some thing marvellous will come out of this key. Ovid - what cunning will young love not discover?

January had a desire to dis port himself in the garden, encouraged by May. One,or nine he awoke and said rise up, your breath are more beautiful than wine, I choose you for my wife. Such stupid old words he used.

May made a sign to Damian to precede them into the garden and he hid in a bush. January enters blind as a stone with may, he lectures her to be faithful saying that if she is she will gain self respect, christ's love and his estate. When I think of your beauty and my unsuitable age I cannot bear to be apart from you.

May cried that she must preserve her reputation, she doesn't want to bring shame on her self and her family. If she is unfaithful he can drown her. She signals for Damian to climb up the tree.

Pluto and prosperine (who are said to dance in the well) looked down at them. Pluto complained of how deceptive women are, quoting Solomon in saying that 1 in 1000 men are virtuous but 0 in a world of women. He claims he will grant January sight when may adulterates. Proserpine retorts that she will give may and all women a response. In the house of Christ there were good women. Only God is perfect. Solomon worshipped a false idol. Pluto gives in but they both have to fulfil promise.

May claims she desperately needs a pear from the tree, there are no servants so January puts his arms round the tree and let's her climb onto his back to reach one, she climbs into the tree and Damian pulls her skirt up and thrusts.
January is given eyes, screams, may claims it was all a ploy to get his eyesight back, he only grappled her. January claimed they had sex, she said he didn't, his eyes will see unusual things for a while as he has to acclimatise. January accepts and is very happy.

May Mary bless everyone!


The merchants epilogue.

Host prays to God that he keep him from such a wife. Women are so clever at betraying men. Beyond a doubt his wife is faithful although poor, yet she is a loud mouth and more.
Between ourselves tired as he is that he is tired to her he is too cowardly to speak of her vices as he fears it would be reported back to her by some members of the company as women know how to advertise such wares. I'm not clever emit to enumerate lots so I will say no more.