The Merchant's Tale

By Eric Glassman

The Merchant

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In the story, there's a noble knight named January. January is a very old man who wants to get married very badly. He tells his best friends, Placebo and Justinius, that he wants to get married, and Justinius says marriage is bad and he shouldn't get married. But, Placebo tells January that he should make up his own mind about marrying. Eventually, after contemplating these contrasting ideas, january falls in love with a young lady named May, and they end up getting married.

One of January's friends, named Damian, also sees May and instantly falls in love with her. They both eventually confess their love for each other, and around that time, January goes blind. Later on, May gives Damian a wax key to January's garden so they can meet up and do their deeds. So, all 3 of the characters go into the garden and just as Damian and May are doing their deeds, January's eyesight is restored. He catches Damian and May, but May comes up with the excuse of faulty eyesight to get out of trouble. Finally, at the end of the story, the Merchant tells the reader that he regrets getting married and wishes he never was.

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Background of the Merchant

The Merchant is a very intriguing character. The Merchant is a worthy and witty man who always boasts about how his profits are increasing, even though he's in some debt. Along with this, the Merchant is the one who tells The Merchant's Tale. In the beginning, he tells the reader that he's been married for about two months and that he he already hates marriage. Finally, he says his wife is a mean, and shrew woman and that he wishes he never got married.

Moral of the Tale

The moral of this tale is that everyone gets what's coming to them and what goes around comes back around. January wanted to marry a very young women, even though she was clearly not interested, and forced her into the marriage anyways. This, and January being blind, leads to May cheating on January, and although this happens, January miraculously gets his eyesight back to catch May cheating on him. So, in the end, both January and May both have bad things happen to them in result from their controversial actions they took.
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One thing I had to research to understand the story was when the tale talked about pluto and his wife, Queen Proserpina, were in the garden with May, January and Damian. I had to research who they were, and when I found out they were gods, it helped me to understand how it was possible that these two were able to grant back January's eyesight and help May come up with her supernatural excuse when January catches her cheating on him.

5 Vocab Words

Vexation: To irritate; annoy; provoke

Meek: Humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others

Benevolence: Desire to do good to/for others; charitable

Fickleness: Likely to change, especially due to caprice, irresolution, or instability

Fastidious: excessively particular, critical, or demanding; hard to please

Essential Question

1) How does Pluto play a key part in the story?

2) If you were Placebo or Justinius, what advice would you give January about the commitment of marriage?