Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chaucer Fuss - The Miller's Tale

We are quickly introduced to the miller in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. The miller, described as an athletic and charismatic man, tells a graphic tale of adultery. The wit and sexual capabilities of an intellectual and tradesman are pitted against each other within this work.

"The Miller's Tale" illustrates a fourteenth century's affair between a young scholar and a carpenter's wife. Traditional tales of adultery place male characters against each other in order to rightfully win a female. However, Chaucer breaks free from gender stereotypes. It is ultimately the carpenter's wife who chooses which man she shall keep and makes actions to dispose of the remaining unwanted male character.

This tale illustrates medieval England's gender relations amid the lower classes. Once again, it is the woman in Chaucer's story who holds the power in an intimate relationship. The carpenter's wife is able to assert independence and trickery over her male companions.

Chaucer also provides a window into fourteenth century English humor. It takes "The Miller's Tale" of crude, sexualized, and graphic imagery to incite enjoyment and laughter from the Canterbury pilgrims.

Above all, "The Miller's Tale" suggests that scholars are not meek men who spend all of their time reading. Thus, Chaucer vividly captures the characters within his work to prove that individuals (even in medieval times!) are not mono-dimensional.

Bibliographical Reference:
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics, 2006.

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