The Miller’s Tale from Canterbury Tales Free Essay

A Reflection of the Life and Views of Middle-class People in the Miller’s Tale

The Miller’s Tale belongs to the collection of the stories The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. This tales starts, when the Miller interrupts the order of the tale-telling, which belonged to Host, as he was drunk and wanted to tell the story, “sumwhat to quyte with the Knightes tale” (Chaucer 2008). Thus The Miller’s Tale is actually the response to The Knight’s Tale and also described the love triangle, written in the fabliau genre. Being a form of fabliaux, The Miller’s Tale belongs to the oral tradition of storytelling, which was really popular by lower social classes of the medieval times. On the one hand this story was characterized by satirizing components, coming from the case of a bourgeois husband, betrayed by his young wife and on the other hand The Miller’s Tale opposes the courtly love, described in The Knight’s Tale and offers a reflection of the author’s literary and social experience and perceptions.

The Miller created a parody for the fairy like style, traced in The Knight’s Tale, as he also used the theme of the love triangle, at the same time mocking about the idealistic romance of courtly love, described there. He makes his heroes imitate the courtly style of romantic relationship, which is evident that Nicholas claims that he would rather die, than lose the chance to obtain Alison’s love. The Miller reveals the unrealistic and unpractical sides of the courtly love and chivalry behaviors. The languages of the two tales are also contrasted by the author, as in The Knight’s Tale Chaucer uses well-polished language, corresponding to the principles of high morality in the world of knights. In The Millers’ Tale all the situations are described with vulgar language with comic tones. Such serious things as marriage and loyalty seem to be of little importance and meaning for the main heroes of the story. This could be vividly proved with the example of how Alison treats her two suitors – Absalon and Nicholas, which is vivid depiction of the overall perception of love and romantic relationship, inherent to the middle class representatives. As soon as the husband of Alison leaves for work, Nicholas does his best to attract her attention with his aggressive sexual advances. Her reaction is described with her words: “Swearing she’d love him, with a solemn promise / To be at his disposal / When she could spy an opportunity.” (Chaucer 2008). She is young and feels attracted to a young man and sees no real reason to refuse him. The only thing, she is really concerned about, is to find the appropriate opportunity, when it would safe to do this. At the same time Alison does not accept the courtship of clerk Absalon, preferring the physical advances of Nicholas. Moreover, she does it in abrupt and open manner: “Teehee!” she laughed, and clapped the, window to; / Off went poor Absalon sadly through the dark.” (Chaucer 2008). The reactions of Alison are the bright representations of the qualities, which were inherent to most girls of the middle-class, who did not follow the principles of marriage loyalty and preferred physical attraction to any gentlemanly approaches. Moreover, Alison supports the plan of Nicholas to deceive her husband and make him the laughing –stock for the rest citizens. When John fell of the boat, Nicholas and Alison tell the people “That he was mad, Some sort of nonsense about ‘Nowel’s Flood’ All started laughing at this lunacy”. (Chaucer 2008).

Overall, The Miller’s Tale is a kind of response to The Knight’s Tale, representing the life and views of the middle-class individuals, their perceptions of morality and love. The story is direct and full of vulgar terms to the same extent, as was the life of lower and middle classes.


Works cited:

Aloni, Gila. Extimacy in the “Miller’s Tale” .The Chaucer Review . Penn State University Press. Vol. 41, No. 2 (2006), pp. 163-184 Retreived from

Benson, Larry. The Riverside Chaucer. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: the Miller’s Tale. Hesperus Press; 1st Edition, 2008

Hastings, Selina. The Canterbury Tales. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1988

Hol, Journey. An Analysis of “The Miller’s Tale” in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales”, 2017

Retrieved from

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: February 4, 2023] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]
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