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Discuss how the miller parodies the Knight's tale, focusing especially on the portraits of Nicholas and Alison and Emily

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Introduction

Discuss how the miller parodies the Knight's tale, focusing especially on the portraits of Nicholas and Alison and Emily 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. The Knight's scrupulous idealism presents a stark contrast to the miller's coarse parody of idealistic and romantic valour. Similarly framed by a love triangle, the miller employs the same structure as the Knight. The Knight's tale involves Arcite and Palamon who are cousins who both fall in love with Emily. Likewise, the miller's tale involves a love triangle which is between Alison, Nicholas who is an astrology student and Absolon who is a parish clerk. ...read more.

Middle

Thus the working class miller mocks the high social institution. The character Nicholas had a room to himself-'a chamber hadde he in the holsterie allone without any compaigne.' This description is same as Arcite's description in the Knight's Tale. Again, the miller has done this for effect as it parodies the Knight's Tale. One of the most prominent contrast between the two tales is their heroines. Emily's beauty is such that the imprisoned Palamon and Arcite both fall in love with her instantly. She is distant, aloof, almost unattainable. She is also of royal lineage and conventionally virtuous. And there is no hint of sexual interest in the cousins' long courtship of her. Emily is a chaste virgin but Alison is a married woman who might be is sexually promiscuous as she is suitable as a mistress for "any lord" but as a wife, she can expect at best to marry a yeoman. This creates a big contrast between the two women. What Alison shares with Emily is beauty and the ability to arouse strong passion. ...read more.

Conclusion

This gives the impression that that Alison is lively and youthful whereas Emily is depicted as holy and unattainable. In Alison's portrait, she is portrayed as a very sensuous and vibrant young woman. She is compared to a weasel -'therwithal as any wezele hir body gent and small.' The tone of the description emphasizes her animal vitality and leaves a graphic impression of the slim sinuousness of her body. It also implies that she is sharp witted, cunning and quick like a weasel. A supple, sinuous quality of her figure is suggested in thi simile which is clearly chosen to stress her sexual attractiveness. However, Emily is portrayed as meek, fresh, pure and gentle. She is fairer than the 'lylie upon his stalke grene' and 'fressher than the may with floures newe.' This accentuates her purity and innocnece. Equally, Alison is compared to a flower-'primerole.' Primrose is a flower that ripens early in Spring. This connote that Alison is fully developed yet of a young age. Alison is clothed in silk, which is an expensive material that is not commonly worn by carpenter's wives. Silk was used for the embroidery on Alison's smock, headband and for the tassels on her purse. ...read more.

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