Unformatted text preview: This and the next tale present a "debate" on the role of position and power in this world. The opening lines of The Shipman's Tale establish this theme. "Once there was a merchant in St. Denys who was rich and was highly respected as wise" ("A marchant whilom dwelled at Seint Denys, / That riche was, for which men helde hym wys.") The tale itself concerns a rich merchant who has a certain authority over those around him because of his apparent wealth. He also has a wife who has a merry and companionable air. (A wyf he hadde of excellent beautee; / And compaignable and revelous was she."), but these excellent qualities cost the merchant dearly. The modern reader may be perplexed, for example, why the merchant refuses his lovely wife money but gladly and readily lends Sir John one hundred francs. Again, the theme of position and power but gladly and readily lends Sir John one hundred francs....
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- Fall '11
- Sir John, person plural pronoun, merchant. Sir John, lovely wife money