Literary Analysis of Chaucer's The Miller's Tale



good day my name is Manuel Francisco Cardenas al Gallo and for my English 309 file final project I will be doing a literary analysis of Chaucer's the Millers tale the Millers tale is the second story told in The Canterbury Tales and is an obvious parody of the medieval romance by all counts it is full of crude language and lewd subject matter and is in clear discord with the Knights tale which immediately precedes the story the Miller who is quite drunk actually interrupts the band of travelers to tell his story after hearing the night tell quite at all a solemn tale this insertion by Chaucer is quite significant as it not only sets up the Millers tale to be a social commentary on the disjunction of class values but helps set this tone for the rest of the Canterbury Tales as well according to LD Benson of Harvard University the Millers tale is Chaucer's finest fabula indeed it is the best of all the fabula in English or French this is pretty high acclaim for what is basically a potty story as wikipedia characterizes a fabula as a comic tale with an excessiveness of sexual and sociological obscenity the Millers tale certainly fits the description given over the course of the story two of the biggest gags or essentially butt jokes which lead in to and ultimately trigger the cup the comedic climax of the story and as if this wasn't enough to laugh at the fool of the story marks the second coming of Noelle's Flood having confused the name of the man who built the ark with Christmas the Millers tale is a lowbrow comedic story indeed while this type of story may not seem like something of significance its inclusion and placement in the Canterbury Tales makes it quite relevant by having the Knight's Tale as the first story in The Canterbury Tales it first presents a familiar and socially acceptable tale of romance before delving into stories likely to be seen as controversial as Lee Patterson of Yale explains that the Millers tale is a scathing and very funny parody of the Knight's Tale Benson supports this analysis observing how the story makes full use the periodic echoes of courtly love by having the Millers tale immediately follow the Knight's Tale and given the content of both stories it is the safe to say that they were meant for comparison this not only draws the reader into the stories but also sets them up for the start Kratt stark contrasts and the tales to come patterson notes that the miller has a very different view of the world and insists it be given attention this is of course one of the greater underlying themes of the Canterbury Tales with people of different means have completely different life perspectives focuses and values as such the Millers tale opens the door to the theme of radically different appreciations adopted by members of different class and status Chaucer's choice to voice all these different stories seems to say that in some way each is valid unto itself while the Millers tale revolves around a similar love pyramid formula that the Knight's Tale uses the values in these tales are quite different the contrast is not only seen in the behavior of the characters but as a mark of Chaucer's skill as a writer his quality extends to the filter of language by which the characters are presented as saram Michael points out in the University of Chicago magazine when the Miller is describing the object of desire in his tale Allison Chaucer calls forth natural images the slimness of a weasels body the tenderness of chicken the sweetness of fruit this imagery is more reflective of farm life than of the aristocratic imagery the knight uses to describe the same appreciation of beauty the Miller also speaks using euphemisms and vulgar terms that may have been shocking for the times sarah also goes on to note Allison possesses what are often seen as masculine characteristics such as having sexual desires and acting upon them this is just one of many examples of how Chaucer plays with gender expectations in a way that was revolutionary in literature Chaucer was certainly aware of the sensitivity of his material in fact the Miller stare mate tale contains apologies for the subject and language of the story before telling his tale the Miller himself admits I am drunk and states that if he missed miss speaks the company should blame it on the alcohol although and formally stated this is the first instance of an apology written into this story the narrator then provides a direct warning to the reader about what can be expected of the story and instructs the readers to turn over the leaf and choose another tale if they're likely to be offended these statements serve a greater purpose than just to apologize for the content of the Millers tale as Patterson explains the Millers tale opens the door to the embittered and dangerous Reeve and then the disgusting cook given Chaucer's retraction statement at the end of The Canterbury Tales where he apologizes for the content that may be viewed as sinful the apology for the Millers tale is also a precursor for the tales to come the themes introduced in the Millers tale are in many ways the heart of The Canterbury Tales for this reason Benson notes a good many critics have thus been interested in the problems of class that the tale seems to raise the Canterbury Tales are often examined for their social commentary on social class but the positioning of the Millers tale makes it incredibly significant it is the first of Chaucer stories to deviate from social norms not just in The Canterbury Tales but of all his work

8 thoughts on “Literary Analysis of Chaucer's The Miller's Tale

  1. thank you so much, I have an exam for university based on the Miller's tale! awesome stuff

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