‘Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.’ - William Penn1
‘You can have it all. Just not all at once’ – Oprah Winfrey2
‘They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself’ – Andy Warhol3
In light of these views consider the ways in which three authors present the significance of time: Rose Tremain in Restoration, Eliot in The Waste Land and Geoffrey Chaucer in The Merchant’s Tale.
These three texts successfully embody symbolic interpretations of their different historical, social and economic backgrounds; they also satirise the attitudes and values of the rich and powerful in society.
Although published in 1989, Tremain’s Restoration is set in seventeen century England, the era of Charles II. Tremain’s unreserved, foolish picaresque Robert Merivel embodies the contradictions of this era by his entrapment between the longings for sexual pleasure, happiness, luxury, money and comfort. Tremain uses illness imagery to parallel the worries over the great plague and the poor standards of living at the time. Set in the town of Pavia, Lombardy in the late 14th century, Chaucer’s The Merchants Tale cleverly reveals certain characteristics about its protagonist, January. Pavia was known for its banks and brothels, which Chaucer cleverly reiterates throughout the text. The most modern of the texts T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land was published shortly after World War I in 1922, the year of Mussolini and fascism. This introduction of new leadership and ideologies can be seen in the fragmentised form of the poem.
Merivel’s social progress is born of a combination of chance, the King’s pity and his personality, `Out of my affection and admiration for your late father I have summoned you Merivel’. The King attaches great importance to the dedication and ambition Merivel shows toward his medical skills. Tremain’s use of the court garden in chapter thirteen for the dismissal of Merivel foreshadows the abandonment and uneasy journey...