Januaries pursuit of a wife and consequent marriage to Maye can be interpreted as a confession; an admission that in the end physical satisfaction cannot bridge a spiritual chasm And folwed ay his bodily delyt, On women, ther as was his appetyt, As doon thise fooles that been seculeer. Throughout the Merchants Tale circumlocution is used to argue the case for a wholesome marital lifestyle as opposed to a sinful hedonistic lifestyle, the reader is so engaged by the merchants convolutions that the obvious bypasses us.
Januarie is the man who could have anything and everything, anything on a material level that is. One might question whether potentially an individual apparently contented with his lifestyle could turn around and willingly sacrifice it. Januarie, in spite of his intellectual limitations, has clearly put his life on the balance and assessed what really matters, Januarie chooses his God over everything else And for to lyve under that hooly boond.
Moreover throughout the tale Januarie is openly telling us of the loneliness he feels He lyveth helpless and al desolat, if one was to read between the lines it is apparent that Januarie feels desolated and forlorn, the feeling of true appreciation cannot be bought with any currency. Januarie is becoming painfully self-conscious and it is beginning recognize that no amount of friends or sexual partners can counterweight spiritual emptiness.
Credit must be given were its due and Januaries marriage to Maye was a turning of a new leaf for him, it marked the opening of a new chapter in his life. Certainly, it might be argued that Januaries true motives for marriage are not completely reputable. Januarie wants to marry for three main reasons; to birth an heir; for permitted sexual intercourse; and for a place in heaven. However the counter-argument to that is that Januarie only desires the afore-mentioned because society has set the dictate. Society dictates what is correct, it also dictates what is needed and this results in a move towards social conformity.
Therefore it can be read that Januarie is a victim of medieval society. Januarie is clearly insecure and self-doubting or else he wouldnt have renounced his epicurean life QUOTE. As a reader, sympathy can be felt for an individual forced to abandon a lifestyle he is supposedly happy with, Januarie has been indoctrinated by the social order. From a modern perspective Januarie leads a completely acceptable and feasible lifestyle, and it is social pressures that have pushed him into marriage. Sympathy might also be felt because Januarie is the victim of his own stupidity, he has also brainwashed himself that he needs a wife QUOTE, Januarie has persuaded himself.
It cannot be forgotten that Januarie does show signs of decency and goodness during the course of the tale. He practices gentillesse in his treatment of Damyan, when he finds out of Damyans siknesse we see a new dimension of Januarie That me forthynketh Januarie even goes as far as too insist on him and Maye paying a visiting him as soon as possible To doon hym al the confort that I kan, we see a virtuous aspect of Januaries personality. It is proleptically ironic that this Gentil squire Damyan that Januarie even quite unwittingly acclaims as wys, discreet, and as secree As any man will cuckold him.
Januarie talks of no dowry from Mayes family and is really saving her and her children from a lifestyle. Mayes treatment of Januarie towards the end of the tale also elicits sympathy from the reader, even more because throughout tale we are constantly reminded of the incongruity of the couples ages Whan tendre youthe hath wedded stoupyng age, it is inevitable that as a modern audience we sympathise with a blind old man rather than a young nubile girl who is mannyssh wood. The one man who has pulled her out of the slum life she once lived, and catapulted her into a lifestyle so far taken from her own is being used as little more than a footstool, an object used to achieve sexual gratification from Damyan, we see the squalid, animalistic nature of humans. We see that Maye is ultimately no better than the old Januarie. Januarie is obviously happy in his new life because he refuses to see a lie when it stares him in the face in the form of May and Damyen up the tree.