ENG202 Lec 3 October 1 2013
What is the relationship between storyteller and tale? What is the relationship between the description
( in the General Prologue), and the tale of each of the pilgrims
How does each tale “quite” or match the lat? In other words, how does the different pilgrims’ tale
respond to one another?
a) The descriptions (p. 246, lines 544 – 66)
His physical strength is very brute
Knocked that the door by kicking it and ramming with his head
Not very smart
Not well rounded individual compared to the Knight
Vulgar, Kind of joker, rowdy, drunk a lot, always playing the bag pipe, full of hot air in a
lot of senses
Slightly croaked, steals from his customers
Willing to trick people for his own gains
He is not only vulgar tale that we see here, and not the only character to have this
The nose’s description
o Bushy beard, his mouth is like a big fernus
The words to describe him
o Comparisons to animals and their body parts
o All is use to put him in a lower level
He is a wrestler
o Physical presence
o Bit of a dumb fellow
o Dirty jokes
His insistence that he follows is part of his disrespectful nature
o Going to do his own thing regardless
b) The prologue (page 287 – 88)
How is he framed?
o Annoying, drunk (it is repeat)
o He has a destructive nature
The host implies
o Let us work respectfully
o There is a need in the pilgrim
c) The tale (p. 288 – 97) The genere of the tale is the faliau (plural fabliaux): A humorous, frequently “Dirty or bawdy narrative
that revolves around trickery, practical jokes, sexual mishaps, scatology, mistaken identity, and bodily
humour. Miller’s tale isn’t actually the only fabliau in the The Canterbury Tale, the Shipman, Friar, Reeve,
and Cook tell them, too.
o Lower class characters
o Tell these vulgar body stories
o This is the frame when comparing to The Millers and the Knight’s Tale
John the Carpenter, rich fellow, old and not very bright. Having young wives will be his fall.
Nicholas the student, astronomer, boarding with John and his wife
Alisoun. John’s young wife.
Absolon. A man who lust for Alisoun
We get a sense that there’s a conflict between old husband and young wife. Nicholas take a liking to
Alisoun quite physically. Able to get her from a fast refusal to quickly agreeing with him to having an
affair. Gettng over the obstacle that is Alisoun’s husband.
What did they decided to do? Alisoun is the big skimmer. Nicholas is stuck in a room, when John found
him, Nicholas “predicts” a huge flood. They told John that there’s gonna be a flood. Have him to buy
tubs hanging in the ceiling, and sleep for nights then when the flood comes, he can cut the rope and
float away. The tubs need. to be away from each other. So at night, Alisoun can sneak away and sleep
Absolon. He sees Alisoun and wants her. Tries time and time again but refused. One day as Alisoun and
Nicholas are sleeping together, he knocked on their door. When he insisted of receiving a kiss, Alisoun
puts her behind out the window. Absolon wants to get back at her for embarrassing her. He got an iron.
The next night, Nicholas sticks his butt out and got branded. Nicholas yelling “water”, John cut the rope
thinking there is a flood. Nicholas and Alisoun convinced the town that John is crazy.
Gagan’s discussion question
1) How is the line, “And al his ernest (seriousness) turneth til jap (joke) emblematic of The
Miller’s Tale as a social commentary/critique of The Knight’s tale? The character of Absolon,
and the depiction of is courting of Alisoun might be a good place to start.
A definition of courtly love which you might find helpful here: “The conventions of courtly love
are that a knight of noble blood would adore and worship a young nobel-woman from afar seeking to protect her honor and win her favor by valorous deeds. He typically falls with love-
sickness, while the woman chastely or scornfully rejects or refuses his advances in public, but
privately encourages him. Courtly love was associated with A) nobility, since no peasants can
engage in “fine love” b) secrecy c) adultery, since often the one or both participants were
married to another noble or trapped in an unloving marriage; and d) paradoxically with chastity,
since the passion could never be consumed due to social circumstance, thus it was a “higher
love” unsullied by selfish carnal desires.” (http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/courtly_love.html)
o Serenate her
o Comb his hair
o Give him gifts
o Chew on liquorish
o Use go-between agents
o He swears that he will be her own page
o To get even closer when he loves her from afar
Look at lines 570 - 590
Absolon goes on and on until Alisoun told him to stop. Before, he becomes persistent and
Alisoun sticking her butt out for the kiss. Yarning for her like a lamb yarn for his mother’s tits.
2) Throughout the poem, there is a warning about meddling with affairs that should not concern
you. From the Prolgue where the Miller defends his tale, saying that a husband should not be
Inquistive of the secrets of his wife (line 55-56), to the carpenter’s denunciation of Nicholas’s
astronomy for “Men sholde nat knowe of Goddes pryvetee (secrets)” (346) What does thi