Thursday, 22 May 2008

Chaucer - Concept Map Resources For "The Merchant's Tale

This image is an early effort and it does not feature a focus question; Still it is structured as a hierarchy of readings of the text for AO4 and it shows (without arrows this time) how relationships between concepts can be made. Several students challenged the order of this paired student reading with strong arguments suggesting that the feminist reading of the text should have been placed in either first or second position. I will post other versions in another week or so when the students have worked on the maps again for revision.

The characters, themes and the terms for language and form are all you need to create a concept map. Concept maps can help you "construct" what you know to deepen your understanding of a topic. They can also help you understand what you do not know! Ultimately, concept maps help you conceptualise a topic so you can establish an overview. Consequently they are great for revising texts and topics.

What you need to do for a concept map is:

  1. Produce a question preferably with the word "how" in it. This will enable you to produce a better, more focused map that will help you conceptualise your ideas on the Tale by organising the concepts into a pattern.

  2. Place the question at the top of your concept map.

  3. Place the ideas/concepts in a hierarchy from the top with the less important, ideas that you cannot link to others or stand on their own below. (You can also find and cut out appropriate images to stick with your concepts to make your map more memorable!)

  4. Place arrows between and around your concepts to trace their relationships. (This will enable you to conceptualise and deepen your understanding of the text.)

  5. Use blue or white tack with the concepts on slips of paper to stick them to a wall or on a big A2 sheet of paper.

  6. Try to justify how you organised your concepts to someone else to find out whether they agree with the pattern of your map.
Rinse and repeat to cover a range of appropriate questions for the text.

Here are a few good questions for the head of your concept map:

In what ways do the Tale reflect the sense of a social hierarchy?

How does Chaucer exploit literary and other traditions?

Can the Tale be described as consistently hostile to women?

Does Chaucer satirise religious and courtly values?

How is the marriage debate presented in lines 307-364 and in another passage of your choice?

How is a modern reader's response to the Tale more complex than Harry Bailey's in the Epilogue?

Is the "world of deceit" presented in the Tale recognisably our own? How is the theme of deceit presented in three passages in the Tale?





Justinius and Placebo

Pluto and Proserpine

Harry Bailey - the host


Auctorite(s )- authors/clerks/figures from The Bible, male experience, proverbs, etc.

Courtly Love - satirised through Damyan and May

The position of women

The Garden

Marriage - includes the marriage debate

The teller and The Tale - nested narratives and implied audiences

Appearance and Reality

Blindness and Seeing

Religion and religious beliefs

Age and Youth

Deception and Self Deception

The Position of Women

Terms - language and form

A Fabliau




Stock Characters (archetypes)

A Senex Amans - Foolish old man

Animal Imagery associated with characters


An Oral Culture and an Oral Style




Heroic Verse - Rhyming Couplets – accentual syllabic verse – like common speech. Aids memory.

Diction of Phrases


Epithets (Part of the oral culture)


The Three Estates (No merchants!)

Fortune - chance and fate - (The roman goddess, Fortuna, the queen of fortune and her wheel)


Time and fate

The influence of the Classical World – Ancient Greece and Rome

Literary Context
The Decameron
The Romance of the Rose
The Mirror of Marriage

The Pear Tree

Metonymy – words to associate feelings and accepted ideas

Timeless and Essentialist
(There is little representation of linear time. Life seen as cyclical.)

The Redundant Style - Additive – for fullness, oral impact, variation on a theme and to develop poetic power!

Conseil – advice and willfulness!

Chaucer’s Wrote in English
English merged with French and Latin additions! This reached a wider audience – to represent variations in life as he saw it?

The Dialogue as a device
An ancient form. Plato and other philosophers used it to inform, teach, reveal etc.

Mythical figures from ancient Greece merged with fairies from English folklore

The Christian world overlaps a pagan one

A Marriage Tale linked to others (identify three others!)

Individualisation (Characters that have detail and depth as opposed to stock characters)

Social Hierarchy –by rank or "degree"

Add in concepts that you think I have left out!

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About Me

I teach Film, Media and English Lit.