This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Human Or Husk: Female Agency In The Knight's Tale And The Miller's Tale

2308 words - 10 pages

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales are filled with many entertaining tales from a variety of characters of different social classes and background. The first two tales told, by the knight and the miller, articulate very different perspectives of medieval life. Primarily, The tales of both the knight and the miller bring strikingly different views on the idea of female agency, and as we will discover, Chaucer himself leaves hints that he supports the more involved, independent Alison, over the paper-thin character of Emily.
There are many aspects of The Knight's Tale that strike the reader as unusual or disturbing. When Palomon first spots Emily, he “cries out” as if he were physically injured, the injury of course being located in his heart (32). The concept of a character being struck with “love-at-first-sight” pains (reminiscent of Ovid's signs of love sickness) is a fairly common convention for a romance to use; Anyone of Chaucer's time who had read a romance before would recognize this. Even Palomon's short monologue about claiming to be able to die from Emily's beauty, and his questioning of whether or not she is a human or a goddess, safely fit into one's expectations of a typical romance, however exaggerated they may sound (32). The knight, in telling the story, likewise shows no surprise at Palomon's sudden burst of emotion; to him this sort of reaction is expected. Because the knight is supposed to represent the typical status quo of high-ranking aristocracy, this is the sort of story he is used to himself- it's likely that he is simply repeating a story he knows by memory, without any thought of questioning it. One the things this does for Chaucer is demonstrate how well he “knows his stuff”; basically he is able to show off how good of a writer he is. Chaucer is well aware of what a typical romance should include, and so here he is showing us his own version of the genre, and with it, how capable of a writer he is.
Any average reader, nonetheless, must show surprise at Palomon's claims. After all, he has only just seen this lady for the first time not a minute before reciting his speech. He knows absolutely nothing of her character or personality, and even then, he is only able to look at her from far away, through the window of a distant prison window. Adding to Palomon's baffling emotions is Arcite's selfsame claim only moments later when he sees her for the first time as well. One person falling in love at a glance from a distance is preposterous enough- but two? The odds seem highly unlikely, even for a romance. Chaucer is not just writing this tale to show off, although that is part of it; all of the things that seem unrealistic and wrong about Palomon and Arcite's love are meant to be seen that way, because Chaucer wants us to spend time actually thinking and considering the plausibility of such conventions. Although love at first sight is fine and good for a romance, is this the sort of thing that can happen in reality? If it is to...

Find Another Essay On Human or Husk: Female Agency in The Knight's Tale and The Miller's Tale

The Miller's Tale-Chaucer Essay

1913 words - 8 pages scream, "Water! Water!") believes, as he has been told, that Noah's flood has come, and cuts loose his tub. The tub goes through many floors until in finally lands on the ground. When Nicholas and Alisoun hear the noise, they run through the town and get everybody's attention. They tell the neighborhood that the carpenter is mad and he thinks Noah's flood is coming.The Miller's story of low life is in sharp contrast to the Knight's tale, but it

The Miller's Tale Essay

1313 words - 5 pages The Miller's Tale The Miller’s Tale is in the form of fabliaux, which is part of the oral tradition of storytelling, which was very popular among the lower classes in the medieval times. Prominently bawdy and satirizing in content, fabliaux commonly told the story of a bourgeois husband who is cuckolded by his young wife. Fabliaux brings a great contrast to the likes of the courtly love tales such as the Knight’s Tale

The Miller's Tale

1401 words - 6 pages and Nick deny it all. In the story one of the main themes is that if you try to control people or keep them locked away then they will rebel and go against you. John married a woman who was significantly younger than him. In the Miller’s Tale it says, “Her age was eighteen years. He jealously kept her as if inside a cage, for she was one both young and wild, and he has fears of being a cuckold, so advanced in years” (“Miller’s Tale” ll. 3223

The Knight's Tale in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

824 words - 3 pages . Chaucer's Knight's tale is a chivalric romance about love and war. These characteristics are presented as two possible sources of human affliction yet are celebrated in a very honoring, ceremonious way. In the tale, two knights are our main characters. Their story embodies the chivalric principles of honor and especially courtly love. In desperation they both decide they must either die or gain the heart of the beautiful maiden Emelye. After years

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Idealism in the Knight's Tale

1834 words - 7 pages Idealism in the Knight's Tale      Despite its glorified accounts of the chivalrous lives of gentlemen, the Knight¹s Tale proves to be more than a tragically romantic saga with a happy ending. For beneath this guise lies an exploration into the trifling world of the day¹s aristocratic class. Here, where physical substance is superseded by appearance, reality gives way to disillusioned canon and emotion is sacrificed for honor. Naïve

Comparing and Contrasting "The Miller's Tale" and "The Reeve's Tale"

947 words - 4 pages "The Miller's Tale" and "The Reeve's Tale", two stories in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, are fabliaux, bawdy and comic tales that build to a ridiculous and complex climax usually hinging on some joke or trick. One parallel observed between the two stories is the unfaithfulness of the wife in marriage. Another similarity between the two stories is the theme of a husband who tries to keep control of his wife. In addition, the

Love Sick: Analysis of The Knight's Tale

832 words - 3 pages In the Middle Ages, love was believed to be a certifiable disease from which one cannot escape. Written throughout medieval literature, this sickness was said to ruin bonds or friendships between ‘brothers’, lead towards sin, and diminish the health of men. A woman’s point of view was never accounted for, because she was the temptress and she was the cause of this love sickness. “Medieval courtly love is often a one-way

Satire of the Knight in the Prologue and Knight's Tale of "The Canterbury Tales"

2367 words - 9 pages more subtly satirized. Chaucer satirizes knights and chivalry in two different ways: in the prologue and in the Knight's Tale. The first way in the prologue is with the pilgrim Knight's character. Chaucer wanted to present a realistic knight, but he also wanted to give the Knight some very real, and obvious flaws, as a sort of social commentary on the way that knight's were perceived in the 14th century. To that end, he gave the Knight

Sex, Love, and Religion in The Miller's Tale, by Chaucer

1302 words - 5 pages Alisoun raised the question to the reader whether John was not pleasing Alisoun’s desires and needs. After all, he was an old man and she was a young female barely 20. Chaucer seemed to infer that humans all have sexual desires and needs to be met, and if one does not get that satisfaction, that person will go in any length to get it. On the other hand, he did not suggest anyone to go out and commit lewd acts. Although this tale dealt with a

Discuss Chaucer's comic method in the Miller's Prologue and Tale

2121 words - 8 pages Discuss Chaucer's comic method in the Miller's Prologue and Tale. Combine your personal response with reference to other critical opinion at relevent points in your argument. The Miller's Tale is undoubtedly Chaucer's most crude and vulgar work, but how far did Chaucer intend for there to be a moral to his story? Are we supposed to sympathise with the jealous but 'sely' carpenter when the wife whom 'he lovede moore than his lyf' is

A Knight's Tale

1697 words - 7 pages occurring again. Johns attempts to explain himself were all ignored as his situation was mocked and his dignity stripped for being not only a fool, but now a cuckold as well. Even the storytellers themselves are in direct contrast of one another. The Knight is a man of nobility and class, where the Miller is nothing more than a drunken common-man. After the Knight’s Tale, the Host asks the Monk to follow, in order to quite, or repay the Knight’s

Similar Essays

Summary And Analysis Of The Knight's Tale

2295 words - 9 pages polite and decent. In the morality of the tale, Theseus' sudden decision to ransack Thebes to right a wrong is perfectly acceptable as punishment for a transgression against the honor of the dead soldiers. The dynamics of the Knight's tale are relatively simple. The tale is instructive, positing the question of which knight ­ Arcite or Palamon ­ has a superior situation. The situation and the moral questions that it poses thus become more

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Enslavement And Freedom In The Knight's Tale

2099 words - 8 pages Enslavement and Freedom in the Knight's Tale        In the Knight's Tale, Palamon and Arcite's lives are filled with adversity and enslavement .  Not only do they live in  physical imprisonment, bound as prisoners of war in a tower, but they fall into Love's imprisonment, which leads them to suffer the decrees of cruel classical gods .  Cooper writes that there "can be no moral or metaphysical justice in the different fates that befall

Miller's Tale And The Reeve's Tale

845 words - 3 pages not offer much insight into the women's intelligence or mental characteristics. This can be seen in "The Miller's Tale" when the Miller writes, "She was a fair young wife, her body was slender" (90), and in "The Reeve's Tale" when the Reeve writes, "Her rump was broad, her breasts were round and high" (110). The two stories contrast in how the women act towards the men. The Miller describes Alison as having, "a lecherous eye" (90). In contrast the

Foreshadowing "The Miller's Tale" Essay

755 words - 3 pages will certainly come in to play later. Furthermore, we know that the Miller has a large mouth like "a greet fomeys." This foreshadows the Miller's drunken interruption after "The Knight's Tale" where he puts his big mouth to work. Though he is drunk and belligerent he insists "by Goddes soule...that wol nat I,/For I wol speke, or elles go my wey" (3132-34). Whether the group likes it or not, they have no choice but to listen to his parody