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Compare and contrast how the three male characters are presented to us in 'The Millers Tale' and consider their roles in the Fabliau.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast how the three male characters are presented to us in 'The Millers Tale' and consider their roles in the Fabliau. The three male characters in Chaucer's 'The Millers Tale' present many of the classic themes in and genre 'Fabliau'. In English literature there is only a small amount of these tales and half of those are Chaucer's. While in French literature there are over 300 stories. Nicholas is presented at the start of the 'tale' as gentle (hende) shy and therefore trusted and experienced in passionate courtly love, we can tell from his appearance and description that he will be the stereotypical fabliau character who is 'cunning' and always 'makes fun of' the other more foolish characters. John the carpenter is given a short description and it is clear by the way he speaks that he is not very intelligent therefore his foolishness will be punished john represents the stereotypical character of the duped husband (old and jealous).Alison is the faithless wife (young and sexually active). ...read more.

Middle

of John's beliefs, gullible 'fools' such as John and Absolon who because of their foolishness are punished by Nicholas's and in a sense Alison's cunning. John is a good Carpenter; but he is naive in that Nicholas was able to persuade him about the oncoming flood. He is also irrational by thinking that he can keep his young wife contented. His punishment is a broken arm and whilst he was asleep his lodger was making love to his wife. The characters of Nicholas, Absolon and John are all different personalities but their social status is akin to a Fabliau, in the sense that they are realistic and lower / middle class since the target audience for the tale in Chaucer's time would not have been 'common' this is shown by the tales courtly form. But the jokes and themes may have surprised much more upper class people, to which the Miller apologies before he even begins. Many critics have argued that the tale must have been for the bourgeois, indicating that they had a strong appetite for them to be satirized in literature. ...read more.

Conclusion

Because of there different personalities they all approach Alison in different ways. Ending with a succession of practical jokes with the red hot poker searing Nicholas's behind, the flood and the joke of Absolon kissing Alison's behind, this maybe seen scatological humour another trait of the fabliau. The tale is ribald in context; farce is a obvious form of humour in the Miller Tale as is irony. Chaucer plays off text against text to create ironic effect, the carpenter is a perfect ironic remedy to the Mi8ller's advice of in the prologue, we learn that the best way for husbands to avoid being cuckolded is to; "An hoiusbonde shal nat been inqiusityf / Of Goddes pryvetee, nor of his wyf." The three male characters in the Miller's tale conform very well to the personalities and themes of the fabliau. But Chaucer changes his characters so they do not completely match genre, as we have seen with their different conventions and methods of acquiring their goals, Nicholas is direct and straight forward, Absolon is indirect and foolish and hence gets punished for it and John is honest and gullible and does not have Alison at the top of his list. ...read more.

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