The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Schleusener, Jay. "The Conduct of the Merchant's Tale." 14 (1980): 237-50.
The Merchant's Tale seems tactless, but Chaucer carefully draws readers in so that they are willing for the Merchant to attack January. The Merchant uses sarcasm and innuendo to trip up readers in their own imaginations. He manipulates May so that readers eventually respond cynically to her. Pluto and Proserpine restore the readers' sense of taste by applying common sense to the situation in the garden. The bitterness of the Merchant's Tale is a bitterness shared by Chaucer, the Merchant, and generations of readers who allow themselves to enjoy the tale.