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The Miller’s Tale A fabliau narrative of lies and Adultery

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1 The Miller’s Tale A fabliau narrative of lies and Adultery
By: Caleb Barnes and Haley Jessup

2 Prologue After the Knight finishes his noble tale, the Host asks the Monk to share next, but the Miller states that he wants to go next, and threatens to leave if he cannot. The Miller reminds the group that he is drunk (to much protest, especially from the Reeve) then explains that his tale is of a Carpenter and a Clerk, who sleeps with the Carpenter’s wife. The narrator apologizes in advance for anything offensive that the Miller says.

3 Summary The Miller begins by introducing the main characters of his story: an Oxford student named Nicholas, a Carpenter, and the carpenter’s very pretty eighteen year old wife, Alisoun. While the Carpenter is out, Nicholas and Alisoun begin flirting and agree to sleep with each other when it is safe to do so. At this time, a new character is introduced: Absolon is another clerk who is in love with Alisoun, but she does not return his feelings.

4 Summary In order to be able to sleep with Alisoun, Nicholas must create a plan to get rid of the Carpenter for a full night. To do this, he pretends to be sick, and when the carpenter comes to check on him, he claims to have had a vision from God. In this “vision” God apparently told Nicholas that a flood greater than Noah's is coming in a few days time.

5 Summary Like Nicholas expects, the Carpenter fears for the safety of him and his wife, so he asks Nicholas how they are to survive the flood. Nicholas tells him that they need to fill three tubs filled with food and tie them to the top of the barn so that they may sleep in them on the night of the flood. When the flood comes they will use axes to cut the tubs loose, and live off the provisions until the water subsides.

6 summary On the night of the flood all three climb up onto the top of the barn, and into the tubs to sleep. Once the Carpenter falls asleep, however, Nicholas and Alisoun climb out of the tubs, down the barn and into the Carpenter’s bed where they spend the night.

7 Summary The next morning, Absolon comes by to hopefully win some love from Alisoun After much protest, she finally agrees to give him one kiss. However, when Absolon goes in for his kiss, Alisoun turns and makes him kiss her naked butt. Infuriated, Absolon goes into town and gets a hot poker before returning to the Carpenter’s residence. When he returns he asks for another kiss, and this time Nicholas farts in Absolons face.

8 Summary Absolon takes the hot poker and brands Nicholas’s butt.
Upon being burned Nicholas cries, “ WATER!!” which wakes the Carpenter. The Carpenter, thinking that the water means the flood has begun, cuts the tubs loose and they come crashing down, breaking his arm in the process. The noise attracts the towns people who all come to see what the commotion is about. The Carpenter tells them Nicholas’s story of the flood, but Nicholas and Alisoun play dumb and dismiss the carpenter as crazy.

9 Literary Devices Irony Symbolism
Dramatic: Alisoun knows that the flood is fake, but John thinks it’s real. Dramatic: The audience knows about Alisoun and Nicholas's affair, but John is oblivious. Symbolism The poker symbolizes a sword and the end of the fight between Absolon and Nicholas. The clothes that each character wears represents their personality.

10 Literary Devices Imagery Humor
Alisoun’s description is compared to different animals to enhance her sexuality. Ex: “She had withal a body like a weasel” “Her song was loud and lively as the call of any swallow perching on the wall.” Humor The Miller is drunk when he tells his story Nicholas being branded by Absolon

11 Reflection My opinion of the Millers Tale was that it was a well written account which kept me interested through the tale. The irony and symbolism add to the suspense of the tale to keep the reader glued to the story. My opinion of the individual characters, however, is dislike because they were extremely flawed in the areas of morality and honor. The adultery committed by the characters is a prime example of their flaws and values. The blind loyalty of the Carpenter, who is the only good man in the tale, is rewarded by the ruin of his reputation, embarrassment in front of the townspeople, and the loss of his wife. All of this because he fully put his trust in a “friend.”

12 Reflection cont. I think that the Miller’s Tale had an interesting plot which continued to surprise me throughout the story. The humor and irony kept me reading. However, I’m not quite sure of my opinion of the characters. On one hand, The Carpenter is a faithful man while his wife is cheating on him, Nicholas betrays the man giving him a place to live, and Absolon is ruthless and won’t give up. On the other hand, The Carpenter isn’t very bright and believes the lie of the flood, Alisoun and Nicholas are brilliant for coming up with such a lie, and Absolon thinks quick on his feet, even if it’s not a great decision. Overall, I still liked the tale, it was well-written and easy to understand.

13 Works cited Ecker, R., and E. Crook. N.p.. Web. 05 Nov <>. . N.p.. Web. 05 Nov <>. Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale" Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov Web. 05 Nov Shravan, G. The New York Times Company., <>.

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