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The Miller's Tale Chaucer Essay

1913 words - 8 pages

"In the years between 1385 and 1389, the darkest period of his life, Chaucer began The Canterbury Tales. In it he could think about and laugh at the very fabric of a society that seemed to be falling in pieces." (D. Howard, p. 401) Chaucer's pilgrims contained the aspects of the society of that time. There are three ideal pilgrims: the Knight, the Parson, and the Plowman. The other pilgrims have flaws that are shown in what they wear, how they talk, and the tales they tell.We find out the Miller's astrological sign is represented by Mars. "'Martialists' are angry and bold, and the Miller's behavior on the pilgrimage is consistent with his categorization." (Chaucer) The Miller is described as ...view middle of the document...

" (D. Howard, p. 424) In the general prologue, Chaucer organizes the pilgrims in a social classes. The Miller and the pilgrims he rides with are the lowest of rank. "The group of churls, the Miller, Reeve, and Manciple, possess the same greed and slipperiness but in smaller, meaner ways." (D. Howard, p. 411) The Miller rides flamboyantly in front, tooting his bagpipe. The Reeve, the Miller's enemy and a suspicious man by nature, rides last. The Miller leads the procession out of Southwark playing his bagpipe. "His bagpipe is a salient feature, for the medieval bagpipe was a rude lower-class instrument associated with the country; because it was shaped like a stomach it suggested gluttony, and because it was a notably phallic, having but one pipe, it suggested carnal lust." (D. Howard p. 404) The Miller is the second pilgrim to tell his tale. Although the Host offered the chance to the Monk, the Miller cried out, "By armes, and by blood and bones, I kan a noble tale for the nones, With which I wol now quite the Knyghtes tale." (The Canterbury Tales, line 3125) "The Miller is saying that he can tell a better tale then the knight and he can also 'quit' the Knight's tale." (D. Howard, p. 415) "Oure Hooste saugh that he was dronke of ale, And seyde, "Abyd, Robyn, my leeve brother; Som bettre man shal telle us first another." (The Canterbury Tales, line 3130) "The Host reveals that the Miller's name is Robin, which is 'associated with the lower-class' during that time era." (D. Howard, p. 412) The Host knows that the Miller is drunk and suggests that another man tell his tale, but the Miller eventually gets his way. The Miller begins "For I wol telle a legende and a lyf Bothe of a carpenter and of his wyf, How that a clerf hath set the wrights cappe." (The Canterbury Tales, line 3141) The Miller is saying that his tale will relate to how a clerk deceived a carpenter. This immediately arouses the ire of that carpenter, the Reeve, who on moralistic grounds asserts that the Miller should not defame wives, although the other carpenter, one of the five Guildsmen, has no word of objection to offer. "This episode suggests that Chaucer is indicating a previous acquaintance between the Reeve and the Miller, and a cordial dislike between them." (E. Howard, p. 132) "In the Miller's tale people push ordinary life out of shape by acting out their fantasies." (D. Howard, p. 416) The Miller's tale is of a gullible old carpenter in Oxford married to an eighteen-year-old woman. The carpenter rents out rooms to two clerks, Nicholas in one room and Absolon in another. Both of the men are after Alisoun, the carpenter's wife. Absolon plays courtly love with absurd preciosity while Nicholas pursues a forthright sexual goal. Nicholas tells the carpenter that Noah's flood is coming and that he has to build tubs so that they will be saved. While the three are in their tubs Nicholas and Alisoun sneak off to bed. While they are leaving, Absolon comes for a courtly serenade....

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