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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, thus it
reflects Chaucer’s social and literary experience. The coarse,
colloquial language and the realistic setting makes it convincing that
a ‘cherl’ like the Miller could have told this story as it shows the
Miler’s unrefined and crude nature. Furthermore, the use of animal
imagery in the Miller’s portrait highlights the Miller’s aggressive
and lewd characteristics. However, it appears unconvincing that a
drunken ‘cherl’ could have created this tale as there are numerous
reference to ancient philosophy, education and the gospels which makes
it doubtful that an uneducated man could have been aware of them all.
Additionally, the tale is structured as a parody of the Knight’s Tale
and courtly love values and the consistency in the imagery and poetic
devise used seem beyond the capabilities of a drunken ‘cherl.’

In the prologue, the Miller is conveyed as being mischievous and witty
when he clearly implies that the host Harry Bailly is to blame for his
drunkenness-‘And therefore if that I misspeke or seye, Wite it the ale
of Southwerk.’ As Harry Bailly is the landlord of the Tabard Inn at
Southwark, The Miller here is making the host responsible for getting
him drunk. As well as this, the Miller is portrayed as being very
humorous and clever when he provokes the Reeve using patronising and
sarcastic tone of voice. He reassures the Reeve who is his enemy that
his wife would not cheat on him-‘But I sey nat therefore that thou art
oon.’ In fact, the Miller is implying the opposite to this as he
regards the Reeve as being a cuckold. This suggests that the Miller is
very smart thus it seem possible that this drunken ‘cherl’ could have
constructed this tale on his own.

However, it seems unconvincing that the Miller could have beautifully
structured this tale. The use of parody is evident in the fairy tale
like style in which the Miller begins this tale-‘whilom ther was
dwellinge.’ This opening parodies the Knight’s Tale. Similarly, the
Miller has structured his tale in the form of a love triangle between
Alison, Nicholas and Absolon. This allows the Miller to mimic the
structure used in the Knight’s Tale. In addition, the Knight’s
idealistic courtly values and romantic valour are deeply parodied by
the Miller. The language used by Nicholas during the wooing process of
Alison is in the style of a courtly lover-‘lemman, love me al atones,
or I nol dyen.’ He is indicating...

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