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The Miller's Tale: Differentiation Of Sex

1464 words - 6 pages

The Miller's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer is a mirror of medieval society particularly in the way it depicts the relationships between men and women as well as giving a realistic portrait of working class people during the middle ages. Alison, the main character illustrates how a woman was able to use her sex through her actions of deceit to many characters. Popular belief holds that courtly love was prevalent during the medieval period; however The Miller's Tale provides a more realistic look into sexual relationships through its use of infidelity and sexual humor. Chaucer's characters are typical middle class workers rather than elite nobility. In addition, many of the characters seem heartless and corrupt. Alison's character is far away from most others in her mere selfishness followed by inappropriate humor leading to Nicolas and his "injury." She responds to her husband's jealousy and protective nature by a flirtatious demeanor. As most literature does, The Miller's Tale has a moral even though it's slanted and the punishable party is no t appropriately disciplined.

Love in this time period was portrayed in a different manner than in The Miller's Tale. Though Alison was not high in the class system, she could not have been considered "good" enough for any lord as a mistress or any common man as a wife, "For any lord to leggen in his bedde, Or yet for any good yeman to wedde", (Lines 161-162). Though, when Alison was wed to an older man she lacked any attraction and longed to be away from him. Alison is thought to be a newly budded youthful pear tree suggesting her childlike vibrancy and causing many to consider her desirable. Chaucer uses many statements that can be interpreted in a different manner with massive ambiguity. He is telling the reader to have her because she is young and should not be married to such an old man. When Nicolas, the young devious student began living with the two, it was only a matter of time before infidelity occurred. The double entendre is used to create a meaning of innocence at the same time as promiscuity. Chaucer goes into tremendous detail in regard to Alison her beauty and sexuality. "A girdle wore she, barred and striped, of silk. An apron, too, as white as morning milk About her loins, and full of many a gore;" (Lines 127-129). The reader is imagining this beautiful bodied woman until he clues them in. "Fair was this youthful wife, and therewithal, as weasels was her body slim and small." (Lines 125-126). It becomes very clear to the reader that not only is Alison very slim but slim as a weasel. A weasel is considered sneaky and devious. Chaucer lets the reader know that Alison is not to be viewed ethical.

In the relationships of older men and younger women, there was a definite sense of insecurity accompanied by suspicion. John, Alison's husband believes her to be fragile and seldom allows her out alone in fear that other men will go after her. When she does go into town, she shows off her...

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