Abstract

Close parallels of plot and language show that in the construction of his third Christmas book, The Cricket on the Hearth, Dickens drew directly and heavily on Chaucer's Merchant's Tale. The Merchant's Tale comically displays the ill-fated marriage between old Januarie and young May. Cricket's plot revolves around whether it is possible for young Mary Peerybingle to be happy in her marriage to the older John, even as her friend May prepares to wed the still older Tackleton. Perhaps one of the qualities that attracted Dickens to Chaucer was a shared aesthetic that mixes pathos, comedy, and social observation. Be that as it may, Dickens was sufficiently pleased by his artistic success in Cricket that he adapted the scenario of a young wife who loves her aging husband in the Dr. and Mrs. Strong subplot in David Copperfield.

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