Preview
Preview

Canterbury Tales - Comparison of the Miller's Tale and the Knight's Tale

:: 5 Works Cited
Length: 1631 words (4.7 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

A Comparison of the Miller's Tale and the Knight's Tale   


    It is common when considering The Canterbury Tales to discuss how some tales seem designed to emphasise the themes of others. Two such tales are the Miller's Tale2 and the Knight's Tale3.

At first glance these two tales seem an incongruous pairing. The Knight's Tale is told by an eminent person, is an historical romance which barely escapes a tragic ending, and its themes are universal: the relationship of individuals to providence, fortune and free will. The Miller's Tale is told by a drunken "cherl" (MT 3182), is a farcical fabliau, and has "a plot, not themes"4. And yet, in my opinion, there is much to be gained by reading the Miller's Tale with the themes and characters of the Knight's Tale firmly in mind. The juxtaposition of the Miller's Tale to "the Knight's Tale makes its very lack of significance significant"5.

These two tales have seemingly opposite doctrines, and yet, it seems to me, both have the same object: to encourage us to survive the misfortunes and uncertainties of life as best we can. The Knight's Tale tells us to "maken vertu of necessitee"(KT 3042) while the Miller's Tale expects "every wight" to "laughen at this stryf"(MT 3849).

The Miller's Tale is designed to "quite" (MT 3127) the Knight's Tale. It certainly matches it in quality of composition, but 'repays' the other tale mainly through its use of comedy. Humour throws new light on the characters and actions of the preceeding tale.

The folly of the carpenter in the Miller's Tale is by no means the only comic device used by Chaucer to create humour, but it is central in many ways. "He is, in theory, the 'authority figure' of the tale, and it therefore opens with him; ...


... middle of paper ...


...e Chaucer: Third Edition (Oxford: OUP, 1987), The Miller's Tale. All line references to the Miller's Tale will be given in text, preceded by the initials "MT".

3. Larry Benson, The Riverside Chaucer: Third Edition (Oxford: OUP, 1987), The Knight's Tale. All line references to the Knight's Tale will be given in text, preceded by the initials "KT".

4. Helen Cooper, Oxford Guides to Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales (Oxford: OUP, 1989), p. 101.

5. Cooper, p. 101.

6. Cooper, p. 99.

7. Robert Miller, "The Miller's Tale as a Complaint," Chaucer Review, 5 (1970), p. 147-160. This from p. 150.

8. Derek Pearsall, "The Canterbury Tales II: Comedy," In Piero Boitani and Jill Mann (eds), The Cambridge Chaucer Companion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 125-142. This from, p. 131.

9. Cooper, 99.

10. Pearsall, p. 129.

 

 


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper








This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
A Comparison of Telling in Knight’s Tale and Miller’s Tale of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - The Importance of Telling in Knight’s Tale and Miller’s Tale In the Canterbury Tales, the Knight begins the tale-telling. Although straws were picked, and the order left to "aventure," or "cas," Harry Bailey seems to have pushed fate. The Knight represents the highest caste in the social hierarchy of the fourteenth century, those who rule, those who pray, and those who work. Assuming that the worldly knight would tell the most entertaining and understandable story (that would shorten their pilgrimage to St....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays] 918 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Summary and Analysis of The Reeve's Tale Essay - Summary and Analysis of The Reeve's Tale Prologue to the Reeve's Tale: The reactions of the crowd to the Miller's Tale were mixed, although many laughed. Only Oswald, the elderly Reeve was offended. He claims that with age the qualities of boasting, lying, anger and covetousness fade away. He vows to repay the Miller's Tale. Analysis The prologue to the Reeve's Tale continues the pattern established with the prologue to the Miller's Tale. Just as the Miller told his tale as a reaction to the Knight's tale, the Reeve vows to tell a tale as a reaction to what the Miller has told, offended by his satiric description of aged carpenter in comparison to the younger characters of the Miller's Ta...   [tags: Canterbury Tales The Reeve's Tale Essays] 937 words
(2.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Suppression and Silence in The Reeve’s Tale - Suppression and Silence in The Reeve’s Tale   Such comments as, “I pray to God his nekke mote to-breke” quickly reveal that the ver-bal game of “quite” involves much more than a free meal to the Reeve in “The Canterbury Tales” (I 3918). This overreaction, which grabs the attention of the audience and gives it pause, is characteristic of the Reeve’s ostensibly odd behavior, being given to morose speeches followed by violent outbursts, all the while harboring spiteful desires. Anger typifies the Reeve’s dialogue and his tale, which begs the question why....   [tags: Reeves Tale Essays] 3047 words
(8.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - The Miller’s Tale and the Life of Christ Essay - The Miller’s Tale and the Life of Christ        When Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, he created a great majority of the individual tales by "borrowing" and reworking material from various sources. Most of these stories would have been very familiar to his medieval audience, and the changes he made in the standard version of these tales for his work would have been a form of tacit communication that would have added an extra dimension to each of them. Howard says that "... the tales possess a relatedness of their own within a world of other texts....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
1912 words
(5.5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
The Miller Essay - The Miller The Miller is not in the tale, but is as vivid a creation of Chaucer as characters that are. The Knight presents us with an ideal to which he probably aspires; the Miller presents us with the real everyday world. While the Knight stresses the nature of romantic love, the Miller considers love in sexual terms. Neither view alone is wholly true. Each is a corrective to the other: love embraces both of these elements. This paper will describe The Miller’s characteristics, his humor, his education level, and his habits....   [tags: essays research papers] 777 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay about The True Face of Unethical Humor - Following Chaucer’s description of the Miller in the General Prologue, The Miller’s Tale reveals that the Miller is more complex than his appearance initially suggests. Given its bawdy and humorous nature, the Miller’s story consists of events of “cuckoldry,” “foolishness,” and “secrets” (1720, 1718, and 1719). As the teller of such a tale, the Miller would immediately be classified as a crude man, interested only in the physical appeal of women. However, as the tale unfolds, it imparts the Miller’s unexpected empathy as he commiserates with Alison, who is trapped by the norms of society....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Miller] 865 words
(2.5 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
The Knight and the Miller Portrayed by Chaucer Essay - The Knight and the Miller Portrayed by Chaucer society. The Knight would be an educated member of society, whereas the Miller would be nearer the bottom of the social spectrum. The type of education each would have had is reflected in the language Chaucer uses in each portrait. In the Knights prologue Chaucer uses longer words and longer sentences. Chaucer lists all the battles the Knights has been in, and the long sentences used help to show the reader that the Knight is educated. In the Millers prologue shorter sentences and shorter words are used which infers that the Miller is uneducated....   [tags: Knight Miller Chaucer Essays] 765 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on The Miller Parodies of the Knight's Tale - The Miller Parodies of the Knight's Tale The miller parodies the Knight’s Tale in several different ways. He cleverly achieves this through his description of the characters, the style in which the story is told and the way in which the characters conduct themselves in the tale. The style in which the miller begins his tale is similar to the style in which the Knight begins his tale. The style used is fairy tale like, as the miller starts his story with-‘once upon a time.’ The miller did this deliberately to mock and parody the Knight’s Tale....   [tags: Papers] 756 words
(2.2 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Importance of Order in Knight's Tale Essay - The Importance of Order in Knight's Tale   Chaucer claims to place the Knight's Tale just after the General Prologue by chance, the drawing of lots. The Knight draws the short straw, and all are glad for it. The appropriateness of his lengthy tale to follow is clear on some levels, and barely perceptible on others. I intend to launch my investigation of the Knight's Tale with a scrutiny of these three statements, and perhaps we shall find an interesting conclusion in this, albeit a disputable one....   [tags: Chaucer Knight's Tale Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1804 words
(5.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
How Does Chaucer Present The Miller To Become Such A Vivid And Vibrant Essay - How Does Chaucer Present The Miller To Become Such A Vivid And Vibrant Character. ‘The Canterbury Tales’ is a selection of stories written in Middle English. On a spring day in April sometime in the 14th century 29 pilgrims (including Chaucer as a character 30) set out for Canterbury on a pilgrimage. Among them is a knight, a monk, a prioress, two nun’s, the friar, the squire, the yeoman, the merchant, a clerk, a sergeant of the law, a wealthy landowner, a doctor, the wife of Bath, a supplier, the reeve, a somonour, a pardoner, Harry Bailey (the host), Chaucer himself, a haberdasher, a carpenter, a weaver, a tapestry maker, a dyere, a cook, a shipman, a poor parson, a plowman, and a miller....   [tags: English Literature] 2585 words
(7.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]