The Canterbury Tales

What is ironic about the Merchant?

The merchant from The canterbury tales

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The Merchant's views on are marrige  ironic. There is a real sense in the Merchant's Tale of goodness slightly gone bad, ripeness becoming slightly rotten. This starts, perhaps, with the opening paean to marriage and the description of January as a worthy, noble knight. It is only as we read on that we realize that, in fact, this apparent positivism is flecked with a bitter irony. January, the noble knight, is also portrayed in unforgiving detail, even down to the scratchy bristles on his neck, and the loose skin on his aged body. We, like May, recoil at the description – there is nothing, for example, of the comfortable, stylized presentation of (for example) the Nun’s Priest’s Tale here. The narrator is unstinting when he wants to focus our attentions on something unpleasant.

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