Theme of marriage in The Merchant's Tale

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“The theme of marriage has two major strands: one is a naively exaggerated description of the state of holy matrimony for the good of the soul. The other is the a darker, more selfish concept of marriage as providing great conveniences for an ageing lecher.” How far do you agree with this statement. Marriage within ‘The Merchant’s Tale” is explored in different ways. To begin with, marriage is shown to be a religious and holy sacrament between a man and woman observed in the eyes of God. The Merchant provides us with this view, suggesting that no other state of matrimony is “worth a bene”. He paints a positive picture of having wife and what qualities they can bring into a relationship, within marriage a man can “Liveth a lyf blisful and ordinaat.” He also conveys the idea that under the bond of marriage, man and woman can be faithful to each other and support each other through the difficulties in life. “Who is so trewe, and eek so entenif/ To kepe him, sik and hool, as is his make?” This rhetorical question given by the Merchant, reiterates vows performed during a tradition Christian wedding ceremony; a man and woman will support each other in sickness and in health whether rich or poor. The Merchant suggests therefore that marriage is a spiritual connection and to have a wife is to have ‘paradis’. However it can be seen that the Merchant is in fact being ironic when listing the benefits of marriage. He has been married for only two months and already is full of regret. During the Merchant’s prologue he speaks of his own wife and the suffering she has brought into his life; “For thogh the feend to hire ycoupled were, /She wolde him overmacche, I dar wel swere.” He believes that if his wife was married to the devil she would even defeat him with her wickedness and trickery. He describes her as “a shrewe et al”. For that reason it can be seen that the
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