The Miller’s Tale
Chaucer made a variety of characters that starred in his The Canterbury Tales. Many of those characters proved to be immoral. The miller is just one of the numerous characters this specific adjective applies to. A miller is someone who grinds grain to make bread. He isn’t very high on the social ladder and wasn’t well liked. The miller tells a story about a student who makes a fool of a carpenter and commits adultery with the carpenter’s wife. One of the themes of the story is that if you try to control someone and lock them away then they will rebel and go against you.
Bread was an important staple during the Middle Ages. To make bread you would first need to go see a miller. A miller is someone who works in and operates a mill. The mills were usually located on feudal estates. The miller would then rent the mill from the estate lord for a year or so. A portion of the grain that the miller earned in that time would go towards paying the rent. “Millers also made their own bread, so they were paid either one twelfth or one sixteenth of the grain that they ground, depending on the quality of the grain” (Allyson Terry). Normal work days consisted of grinding grain, which the townspeople would bring them, into flour. Before they could grind the grain, they had to get all of their equipment ready. Most of it was high maintenance and had to be cleaned out constantly. Grain would get stuck in all the nooks and crannies and cleaning proved very tedious. Millers were considered peasants and located in the class just above servants in the secular world. They were usually disliked due to the fact many of them chose to steal grain from their customers.
In the story an old carpenter, John, marries a young eighteen year old named Alison. They rent out a room to a man named Nick, who tries to flirt with Alison. At first she doesn’t want anything to do with him but then she agrees to an affair. In order to see each other they come up with a plan to fool the carpenter. Nick tells John that a monstrous flood is coming and he must get provisions and tubs for them to survive. “This Monday at a quarter of the night there shall come down so furious a rain not half its force did Noah’s flood contain” (“Miller’s Tale” ll. 3516-3518). John gets everything ready and the three of them climb up to the roof and into the tubs to wait. As they are waiting, John falls asleep so Alison and Nick climb down the ladder and go to bed. Then a parish clerk, Absalon, enters the story. When Nick and Alison are in bed, Absalon comes to the window and asks for a kiss from Alison. She wants him to go away so as a joke she sticks her butt out the window for him to kiss. As soon as he realizes what just happened he seeks revenge. He goes to a blacksmith and gets a hot blade. He comes back to the window and tells Alison that he will give her a ring in exchange for another kiss. By now Nick has gotten up and decides to have Absalon kiss...