The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Beidler, Peter G. "The Climax in the Merchant's Tale." 6 (1971): 38-43.
Similarities between Damyan and Priapus, and between the situations of Damyan and May and Pyramus and Thisbe, have been suggested as evidence that Damyan does not reach climax in his love-making with May. Damyan and Priapus, however, are more different than alike, and the situation of Pyramus and Thisbe is not at all like that of Damyan and May. Nor can readers use timing as a basis upon which to decide that Damyan does not reach climax. In the garden scene, Chaucer demonstrates that he is more interested in telling January's tale than in speculating about whether Damyan achieves climax. Questions regarding Damyan's sexual climax are extraneous to the tale.
Brown, Emerson, Jr. "Hortus Inconclusus: The Significance of Priapus and Pyramus and Thisbe in the Merchant's Tale." 4 (1969): 31-40.
The reference to Priapus in the Merchant's Tale should make readers think of Ovid's Priapus. The allusion to Priapus in the garden points to its sensual overtones, and his link to Damyan suggests that the sexual encounter with May does not end satisfactorily. January thus becomes Silenus; he cannot participate but becomes a defeated spectator. The Merchant thus ridicules courtly love and explores the idea that love of any kind lacks fulfillment. Also, the allusion to Pyramus and Thisbe highlights the coarseness of the affair between May and Damyan.