The Merchant Quotes in The Canterbury Tales

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

There are 32 characters in 'The Canterbury Tales.' If you are having a tough time remembering who said what, check out this lesson where will take an in-depth look at some of the Merchant's most defining quotes. Read on to get in the know.

Relationship Woes

If you know someone who complains about their boyfriend or girlfriend, then the Merchant in ''The Canterbury Tales'' might sound familiar. Throughout the book, the Merchant is pretty bummed about being married and spends a lot of time complaining about the married life. He obviously should have stayed a bachelor.

The Merchant's Sorrow

The first quote we get from the Merchant is when he says ''Wepyng and waylyng, care and oother sorwe I knowe ynogh, on even and a-morwe.'' In other words, he knows a lot about how it feels to weep and wail all day and all night. Right off the bat, we see that the Merchant is not exactly a happy guy, this quote just shows us the depth of his unhappiness.

Later, the Merchant gives the reason for his misery: His wife. He explains, ''I have a wyf, the worste that may be.'' He tells the listeners that she is a shrew (an unpleasant and grumpy woman) and a foul fiend. He says that there is a world of difference between her and Griselda, an obedient woman from fairy tales. The Merchant explains that many men probably know how he feels and that marriage is often a miserable affair.

The Snare

The Merchant continues on his anti-marriage tirade saying ''I wolde nevere eft comen in the snare.'' This means that if he had a chance to be single again, he would never again be caught in the ''snare'' of marriage. The Merchant makes it very clear that he is unhappy and deeply regrets his marriage. The merchant uses these complaints to set the stage and tone for his story. It is hardly surprising that his tale focuses on a wife's horrible deeds and the dark side of marriage.

The Merchant's Story

As far as the Merchant's actual story is concerned, as promised, he describes the tale of a man who marries a younger woman. Throughout the story, the Merchant makes it clear that he thinks marriage is a bad idea. This is clear in the exchange between the characters January and his brother Placebo. January is unsure whether he should marry, but Placebo urges him on saying, ''take a yong wyf; by my fader kyn.'' The fact that Placebo means flattery or a substitute for truth implies that this is a bad idea.

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