The Miller’s Tale | A Simple Fabliau, Parody ofthe Knight’s Tale or a Biblical Pun? by Margo Kuronyi Watson
Parts of the Presentation• The Miller up close and personal o Miller in the general prologue o Miller in his prologue o Miller in the Reeve’s Tale• Overview of the Miller’s Tale o Prologue o Characters• What the scholar’s fight about o The tale as a fabliau o The tale as a parody of the Knight’s Tale o The tale as a Biblical pun.
The Millere was a stout carl for the nones. Ful big he was of brawn and eek of bones That preved wel, for overall ther he cam At wrestling he wolde have always the ram. Who Is The Miller? He was short-shudlred, brood, a thikke knarre. Ther was no dore that he nolde heve of harre, Or breke it at a renning with his heed. His beerd as any sowe or fox was reed, And therto brood, as though it were a spade: Upon the cop right of his nose he hade A werte, and theron stood a tuft of heres, Rede as the bristles of a sowes eres His nosethirles blake were and wide. A swerd and a bokeler bar he by his side His mouth as greet was as a greet furnais. He was a janglere and a Goliardais, And that was most of sinne and harlotries Wel coude he stelen corn and tollen thries--- And yit he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee. A whit cote and a blew hood wered he. A baggepipe wel coude he blowe and soune, And therwithal he broughte us out of towne.• The Miller in The General Prologue Strong, bearded, ginger-haired man, carried an ax, had a wart on his nose and played the bagpipes. The importance of the bagpipes
The Miller in His Prologue• Position of the tale Lat see now who chal telle another tale. For trewely the game is wel bigonne. Now telleth ye, sire Monk, if that ye conne, Somwhat to quite with the Knightes tale.• The Miller is drunk• The Host’s apology Aviseth you, and putte me out of blame: And eek men shal nought maken ernest of game• The Miller in the Reeve’s Tale o Is it revenge? o He plays the bagpipes! This drunken miller hath ye told us here by force How that beguiled was a carpentere, Paraventure in scorn, for I am one: perhaps And, by your leave, I shall him quite anon. Right in his churlish termes will I speak, I pray to God his necke might to-break. He can well in mine eye see a stalk, But in his own he cannot see a balk."
Overview of the Miller’s Tale • Key Players John: The Carpenter Alison (Alisoun): The young and beautiful wife Nicholas: The student / young lover Absolon: A clerk to a priest • What happens? The cuckold plot The ers and the fart
What Was Chaucer Really Getting At?• Fabliau o A short story in verse that deals satirically, often grossly and fantastically as well as hilariously, with intrigues and deceptions about sex or money (and often both these elements in the same story) (NAEL, 239). And prively he caughte hire by the queinte But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers And saide, “Ywis, but if ich have my wille, For derne love of thee, lemman, I spille,• Parody of the Knight’s Tale o Position of tale o Character similarities o Aviseth you, and putte me out of blame: And eek men shal nought maken ernest of game
• Biblical pun o The carpenter and his wife o Noah’s Arc o “This Nicholas anoon leet flee a fart as greet as it hadde been a thunder-dent.” o Privetee A kneeding-trough A Tub A Kimelin Men sholde nought knowe of Goddes privetee Fecche me drinke, and after wol I speke in privetee And to his wif he tolde his privetee I wol nought tellen Goddes privetee And heeng hem in the roof in privetee
Works CitedBiggs, FM, and LL Howes. "Theophany In The Millers Tale + Religious Themes And Biblical Allusions In Geoffrey Chaucers Canterbury Tales." Medium Aevum 65.2 (n.d.): 269-279. Arts & Humanities Citation Index. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.Blamires, A. "Philosophical Sleaze? The Strok Of Thought In The Millers Tale And Chaucerian Fabliau." Modern Language Review 102.(2007): 621-640. British Library Document Supply Centre Inside Serials & Conference Proceedings. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.Chaucer, Geoffrey. “Canterbury Tales.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Stephen Greenblatt, gen. ed. 8th ed. Vol. A. New York: Norton, 2006. 218-315. Print.Eyler, Joshua R., and John P. Sexton. "The "Millers Tale," Lines 3466-3499: Narrative Inconsistency And The First Fragment Of "The Canterbury Tales.." Anq 21.3 (2008): 2-6. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.Morgan, Gerald. "Obscenity And Fastidiousness In The Millers Tale." English Studies 91.5 (2010): 492-518. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Dec. 2011.