Sex In Story

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Sex in The Shipman's Tale

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Sex in the Shipman's Tale

The Shipman's Tale is filled with sex and love (Spargo, 1930). Spargo finds that Chaucer has only simplified and made the plot of his tale very easy, not considering the source of his plot, as to where he got the idea. Still, he believes that there exists complex characterization and functionality in the story. It reads: “Thus endeth now my tale, and God us sende. Taillynge ynough unto our lyves ende. Amen.” (VII, 433-4) (Chaucer, 1727).

The Taillynge means to tally, whereby the shipman implies both settlements of debts as well as sexual intercourse. The same word of tally was used in the text just shortly before when the wife offers her tail (genitals) to his husband in lieu of the hundred francs that she had stolen from him and had swindled him. She says: “I am youre wyf; score it upon my taille" (VII, 416) (Chaucer, 1727). It is clear that the use of the word tail here means both the account as well as the slang word that is used by the wife of Bath. Here, she links her likening of wine with her likening of the sex. She says: "A likerous mouth moste han a likerous tayl" (III, 466) (Spargo, 1930).

The chief thing about the story is that two mutually related things are included in the story. These include the money and sex. This shows how the characters commercialise their sexual relationship. The wife of the merchant in the story has illicit sex with the monk. Then, she does prostitution with him. Then, the reader is not happy (and feels pathetic) when she offers herself to her husband, asking for even more money, for the free sex she owes him. Consequently, he is double-crossed by his wife as the wife not only deprives him of his hard-earned money but also makes him the cuckold.

The difference of this story from other stories is that it has a certain twist not afforded other stories of love and sex. Spargo (1930) advocates that the love of the lover, and his gift to his paramour is regained (or returns to the lover). However, this situation does not arise in this story. Spargo (1930) believes that, on one hand, the monk has free sex and does not pay any money, while the husband is indeed innocent and unaware of his wife's infidelity. This suggests that the loser of the game is no one else, but the wife. She loses both her sanctity and status. In other such stories, no such losing and winning occurs between the spouses. However, the case of Chaucer is different where the wife is at the loss. However, she has been cheated by the monk. Still, she does not accept her defeat and instead puts the burden on her husband. She not only cheats him of his money but also makes him a cuckold. Still, she would not leave him and would extract the last drop of sex from ...
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