The Cant er bur y Tales Geoffrey Chaucer The Reeve’s Tale
The Reeve, OswaldPhysical Characteristics, Clothing, AccessoriesOld, choleric, thin “stick legs”Closely shaven beard, hair stopped above his ears.Wore a blue overcoatRode a dapple-grey (named Scot)Had a rusty blade on his side Words, Experiences, and Personality Traits Rich but Cheap (kept money tucked away) wise People beneath him were afraid of him. Carpenter of first-rate skill Could tell how well his crops would grow by observing the weather patterns. He rode in the back of the pack on their journey
Middle Class The ReeveCommon-man , under the rule of a master, learned a usefultrade (carpentry)InferencesChaucer states that “he could judge by watching droughtand rain/The yield he might expect from seed and grain”Chaucer makes reference to the Reeve’s “master”Chaucer also states that the Reeve “had been undercontract to present/The accounts, right from his master’searliest years.”Chaucer makes the Reeve seem like an ordinary middleclass citizen. “He had a lovely dwelling on a heath” Heath: a tract of uncultivated, open land, with infertile, sandy soil, covered with grasses and weeds.
The Tale The Reeve’s TaleMain CharactersThe Miller: “Simpkin the Swagger”. He is a jealous and corrupt manwho has a penchant for stealing. He plays the bagpipes and he is veryprotective of his wife.Miller’s wife: (unnamed) nobly born, father was the Parson of thetown. Educated in a nunneryMolly: the Miller’s 20 year old daughter. “plump, well-grown, buthad pretty hair.” (Other than her hair, she was ugly)Unnamed and genderless child in a cradle: the couple’s youngestchild.Alan and John: two young, gullible students from CambridgeUniversity. They devise a plan to expose that the Miller is a thief.SettingA Mill in Trumpington, not far from Cambridge town.
Climax: Alan crawls into bed with the Miller since there was no cradle at the foot of his bed. Thinking it was John, he tries Plot synopsis to wake him up and whispers in his ear “ Get ready to leave, I have been having sex with Molly all night!”Molly told Alan where the cake was withtheir cornmeal baked into it.Out of Jealousy, John moved the baby cradle to the foot of his bedso that when the Miller’s wife got up un the middle of the night,she would get into bed with him. John had sex with the Miller’ swife. “Till the third morning cock began to sing” The Miller Punched Alan in the face and Fal made him bleed. lingTo get back at the Miller for stealing theircornmeal, Alan has sex with Molly all night A ctiolong while everyone is sleeping. ns:While the two boys were looking for theirhorses, the Miller stole half of their s: n Actio The Miller tripped and fell on his wife. His wifecornmeal. The two boys finally found thought that she was in bed with her husband andtheir horses and the Miller invited them thought that the two students were fighting. She g Risinto stay the night. beat her husband, thinking it was Alan, with a stickWhile the students were grinding and he fell to the ground.their corn at the mill, the Miller settheir horses freeThe Miller and his family arevisited by two students from Conclusion: The two boys ranCambridge, John and Alan. off with their cornmeal and their horses. “Do evil and beExposition: Miller and His wife live with their done by as you did”two children at the mill in Trumpington.
Theme•The theme of the Reeve’s tale is simple:“What goes around comes around”•The Miller was a thief and stole from thetwo boys. In return, he ends up getting beatwith a stick by his own wife!•Other themes include: trickery, deceit,revenge, theft, and satisfying guiltypleasures.
Classification of the TaleGenre of the Tale:Fabliau (fab-lee-oh) A story based on clever tricks involving infidelity(disloyalty).Supporting evidence for classification• This tale is a fabliau because revolves around deceitful tricks. John and Alanhave sex with the Miller’s wife and daughter to get back at him for stealing theircornmeal.•The Miller is a disloyal man, therefore he pays for his actions in the end of thestory when he gets beat by his own wife.•“Cradle swapping”Source of the taleThe Flemish Een bispel van .ij. clerken, a derivative of Jean Bodels Old French DeGombert et des deux clers, is a likely source for the Reeves Tale.Contemporary Counterparts:•This story is the perfect example of the saying “what goes around comes around”•Much like the popular shows of today (Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City,and Degrassi) Sex is a big theme.•Desperate Housewives is full of deceit and trickery as well as disloyalty and“bed-hopping”