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The Merchants Tale Revision quiz

Teachers answer sheet

These were written by a class and alternative answers are possible!

1. Q: On his wedding night, why was Januarie shave all newe in his manere?
(line 614)

A: Young men shaved and old men grew beards. This shows Js attempt to
fake youth and virility.

2. Q: Who said: For, God it woot, I have wept many a teere / Ful prively, sin I
have had a wyf.?

A: Line 3323 Justinus

3. Q: Slakke skin about his nekke shaketh and his fresshe May. What do
these two quotations emphasise about Januarie and Mays relationship?

A: Antithesis/binary opposition of age of Jan and May highlights


incompatibility of marriage of their physical appearance and their age.

4. Q: How long has the Merchant been married to his wife?

A: Two months

5. Q: What kind of tree do May and Damyan climb?

A: Pyrie or pear

6. Q: How is the following metaphor used and what is its relevance to the rest
of the poem?
But certeynly, a young thing may men aye,
Right as men may warm wex with handes plye.

7. Q: At what point in the tale is May no longer described as fresshe May?

A: May has made a wax impression of the key to the gate of the garden,
Damyan has a key made. May and Januarie visit the garden and she
makes signs for Damyan to go in first.

2006 www.teachit.co.uk 5537.doc page 1 of 2


The Merchants Tale Revision quiz

8. Q: But I woot best where wringeth me my shoe


(line 341)

What is this a metaphor for, and why is it effective?

A: It is Justinus way of explaining that only he knows the faults of his wife.
It highlights the difference between appearance and reality.

9. Q: I have, quod he, herd seyd, full yore ago, / Ther may be no man han
parfite blisses two / This is to seye, in erth and eek in hevene.
Who says this?

A: Januarie

10. Q: What is the significance of May and Januaries names?

A: Both names are seasonal. Jan is a Winter month when things are cold,
dead, withered. May is Spring which represents birth, warmth and
creation. This highlights the couples incompatibility.

11. Q: For love is blind alday (line 386)


How is this quote ironically related to Januarie and Damyan?

A: J Both physically and metaphorically blind. The moral that May gives.
D Courtly lover love is blind. A critical view of CL is given through
parody.

12. Q: Ris up, my wyf, my love, my lady free


Who says this and which source is being paraphrased?

A: Januarie and the Song of Solomon

13. Q: What is the dramatic impact of the Tale ending so abruptly?

A: Various answers possible: highlights that none of the characters


including the Merchant have learnt anything, leads the reader to
questions what happens to the characters etc.

14. Q: What are the consequences of Proserpinas rhetorical questions in lines


1080 onwards?

A: The series of questions one after the other builds the strength of her
argument. They highlight the major weaknesses in Plutos argument.
She proves that men are not as noble as they are first labelled. She
suggests that men are ignorant of the truth whereas women are more
knowledgeable and intuitive.

2006 www.teachit.co.uk 5537.doc page 2 of 2