Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story The Merchant's Prologue

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The Merchant's Prologue

  • The Merchant says that everyone who has a wife, including him, endures much weeping, wailing, and sorrow.
  • The Merchant describes his wife as a shrew, a woman who could outmatch Satan if she were married to him. The Clerk's story about a patient wife named Grisilde has made him think about the huge difference between Grisilde and his own wife.
  • If he could do it again, says the Merchant, he would never get married, for married men have great sorrow and trouble, as all wedded men know.
  • The Merchant tells the Host that he has been married for only two months.
  • The Merchant says that, even if a wifeless man was stabbed, he could never tell as sad a story as the Merchant can about how awful his wife is.
  • The Host tells the Merchant to put his money where his mouth is and tell the story already, since he clearly knows so much about it.
  • The Merchant says he will gladly tell his story, but it's not about his own sorrow in marriage.

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