The Milller’s Tale from The Canterbury Tales Essay
‘The Canterbury’ tale is a classic piece of literature by Geoffrey Chaucer written in verse form that gives the narration of a group of pilgrims. Its setting is toward the end of the fourteenth century. Moreover, the narration is part of a storytelling contest in which the pilgrims participate for the prize of a meal at the Tabard Inn. According to the Canterbury tale, the miller is a drunk who insisted on giving his narration before the Monk (Shmoop 1). The miller, the Monk, and the Knight were part of the twenty-seven pilgrims who were to give narratives to entertain one another in their journey. However, he begs the audience to pardon his state of mind by not holding him responsible for his utterances. The Host, Harry Bailey, calms him down and allows him to give his narration after the Miller threatens to leave the gathering. The tale of the Miller is a sharp contrast of the Knight’s tale, which is about two knights in prison who fall for one woman, Emelye (Phillips 64). In contrast, Miller’s prologue is a narrative characterized by immorality (Phillips 61). Nicholas, a character in the prologue is an astrology student who lusts after his host’s wife Alisoun. The two engage in a romantic secret affair behind John’s back. Another man within the tale who also lusts after the young and beautiful Alisoun is Absolon who tries to grasp her affection. Severally he tries to win her heart but to no avail. Nicholas leads John, a carpenter, into believing that he was terminally ill and that God had given him a revelation. The revelation turns out to be a hoax in which Nicholas and Alisoun secretly leave for the house and engage in their usual play (O’Connor and Chaucer 31).
Ideally, the revelation was that God would let floods cover the land hence they needed to build tubs suspended high above the barn and escape in them when the floods came. This does not happen, and in an attempt to illustrate this occurrence to the villagers, it makes John appear mad. On the other hand, Absolon tries to get a kiss from Alisoun in the morning after the alleged calamity of floods (Shmoop 2). He leans over to Alisoun’s window and instead Alisoun makes fun of her by allowing the parish clerk to kiss her behind. The parish man is mad for two reasons, one that Alisoun gave her backside instead of her lips to kiss and secondly, for Alisoun having slept with another man. In haste, Absolon goes into town to a blacksmith’s shop to acquire a red-hot piece of iron for him to take revenge on Alisoun. He goes back to John’s house, and this time Nicholas meets him on the window and releases fumes from his rear end (O’Connor and Chaucer 38).
In anger, Absolon pokes Nicholas’ rear end with the hot iron where he growls in anguish. The whole village responds to his cries as they rush to the scene to ascertain the cause of the noise. All this while, John is in deep sleep upon the suspended tub and only awakes when he hears Nicholas’ painful cry. He wakes up thinking that the floods have come and hits the roof of the barn falling down and breaking his arm (Shmoop 2). The villagers inquire into the preceding events that led to Nicholas’ predicament but none of those involved utters any word. They all keep mum and John tries to narrate the flood claims, Nicholas, and Alison’s brush of his claims and even claim that he was insane.
O’Connor, John, and Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales: A Play Based on the Poem by Geoffrey Chaucer. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes, 2001. Phillips, Helen. An Introduction to the Canterbury Tales: Reading, Fiction, Context. New York, NY: St. Martins Press, 2000. Print. Shmoop University. The Canterbury Tales: the Millers Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer. Sunnyvale, Calif.: Shmoop University, 2010. Internet resource.