Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: PEP-Web Archive subscribers can access past articles and books…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

If you are a PEP-Web Archive subscriber, you have access to all journal articles and books, except for articles published within the last three years, with a few exceptions.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Kloss, R.J. (1974). Chaucer's The Merchant's Tale: Tender Youth and Stooping Age. Am. Imago, 31(1):65-79.

(1974). American Imago, 31(1):65-79

Chaucer's The Merchant's Tale: Tender Youth and Stooping Age

Robert J. Kloss, Ph.D.

Though the Merchant's Tale is generally classified among the fabliaux of the Canterbury Tales, Benson and Andersson in The Literary Context of Chaucer's Fabliaux have rightly observed that the tale is “not typical of fabliaux literature, which is more exclusively interested in demonstrating the wiles of women. Thus, most of the analogues to the Merchant's Tale are concerned not with the portrait of a cuckold, but with the mechanics and outrageousness of the deception.” J. S. P. Tatlock has noted a further variation in that in none of the many analogues is the cuckold an old man; in most, his age is indeterminate. Why Chaucer chose to focus attention on the male rather than the female and why he chose to age his protagonist so greatly, we have no way of knowing. We can, however, scrutinize the effects these variations on a theme have upon readers as they react to the tale and make some deductions from them.

In “The Effect of the Merchant's Tale,” Donaldson, for example, concludes that “the Merchants Tale was carefully written to present the kind of world that can come into being if a man's approach to love and marriage is wholly mercantile and selfish—if he believes he can buy as a wife a domestic beast that will serve his every wish and, somehow, fulfill his most erotic fantasies.” Tatlock's opinion is stronger still: “Senile lechery seems to anybody repulsive, ridiculous at best.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2019, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.