The Merchant’s Tale

In this article will discuss The Merchant’s Tale Summary in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

January, an old and successful knight, who has not married in sixty years, decides to marry when he turned sixty.

When he’s gathered his friends for advice, his friend, Justinius, reminds him that he’s against marriage and has been unfaithful to women all his life; his another friend, Placebo, welcomes his decision and extends his supports.

January expresses his wishes to marry a woman whose name his May and his young and virgin. January marries May and the moment his friend, Damien, sees her he falls in love with her.

He’s so much in love that he becomes physically ill. January, with his wife, May, sends few women to attend to Damien. Seeing May sitting beside him, Damien passes a note expressing his love to May; in return, May extends the same feeling of love for him.

January becomes blinds and demands May to be by his side every time and if she has to go somewhere, he should be taken along. January has a beautiful garden where he wishes to have sex with May in summer.

May gives an imprint of garden’s key on wax to Damien and invites him to come climbing the pear tree. The day arrives and when January and May are going to the garden May unlocks it enters the garden where Damien has already reached.

At this point, the narrator stops and brings gods, Pluto and Proserpina, talking about May and January. Pluto decides to return January’s sight for women cannot be trusted especially May and that he’d do that when the time is right.

Proserpina, on the other hand, says that men are sex-obsessed and that she’d provide with an excuse that January wouldn’t be able to ignore for whatever he sees.

The narrator returns to the storytelling us May lead January to the garden. She asks him to bend over as wishes to have a pear from a pear tree where Damien is already waiting for her.

While they have sex upon the pear’s tree, Pluto restores January sight and he sees them having sex. However, as promised by Proserpina for an excuse, she tells January she has been told to struggle with a man in a tree to bring January’s sight.

January says that she hasn’t been struggling but having coitus. May replies saying that her medicine was wrong, he has not been properly seeing. To this, he says he sees perfectly.

Eventually, May convinces him saying that he wasn’t used to seeing properly in the daylight and he didn’t see her having sex. January gets convinced, and they kiss and hug each other.