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Chaucer - The Miller's Tale

The various tales in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales range from the pious to the bawdy. "The Miller's Tale" is an example of low-brow comedy that is aimed at providing humor in the work in contrast to tales of courtly love also included.

"The Miller's Tale" is the story of a naïve old landlord who is duped by his a young student, Nicholas. Nicholas concocts an elaborate scheme about the coming of a flood, so he can secretly make love to the jealous old man's wife. Astrology was popular during the era and the student tells the old man that astrology has provided him with a vision of a great flood, "All his desire / Was tuned to learning astrology (Chaucer 3192-93). Nicholas believes as a "clerk" he can outwit the old "carpenter," (Chaucer 3299-3300). The pair concocts a scheme to be able to be alone out of the husband's sight. The tales turns into low-brow bawdy humor when Alison tricks Absolon into kissing her rear end when he thinks he is going to be able to steal a kiss. As Chaucer (3732-3734) writes, "And at the window out she put her hole, / And Absolon, to him it happened no better nor worse, / But with his mouth he kissed her naked ass." Clearly this tale of cuckolding and low-brow humor is meant to stand in stark contrast to tales of knightly love and romance that were very popular during the period. For example, this ribald story stands in stark contrast to the tale of knightly romance in "The Knight's Tale."

Chaucer, Geoffrey. "The Miller's Tale." The Canterbury Tales. 19 Feb. 2009 .


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