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Quotes

Quote #1

His resons [the Merchant] spak ful solempnely,
Souninge always th'encrees of his winning
.
(General Prologue 274 – 275)

Usually when someone gives "resons," it's in the context of a philosophical debate. But the Merchant's mind is on one thing and one thing only: money. We get the impression that his conversation is a bit monotonous!

Quote #2

But al be that he was a philosophre,
Yet hadde [the Clerk]but litel gold in cofre
.
(General Prologue 297 – 298)

Two things could be happening here: 1) This could be an ironic joke playing upon the fact that then, as now, we don't really expect someone who studies obscure topics for a living to have a whole bunch of money. 2) "Philosophre" actually means alchemist, someone who transforms base metals into gold.

Quote #3

So greet a purchasour was nowher noon:
al was fee simple to [the Sergeant of the Law] in effect
.
(General Prologue 318 – 319)

The Sergeant of the Law's financial success has allowed him to avoid something that, for medieval people, was a moral failing: debt. All the Sergeant of the Law's land is "fee simple," or purchased free and clear with ready money.

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