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The Miller's Tale: Lines 364-489

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Introduction

The Miller's Tale: Lines 364-489 Analyse the event and relate it to the whole poem. What does it reflect about the characters John and Nicholas? The event shows numerous character traits of both Nicholas and John. For example, it shows Nicholas's skill as an actor, as, even when a door is knocked to the floor, he is able to remain "stille as stoon". This also shows how Nicholas is taking the plan very seriously, and is willing to prevent himself from flinching when the knave knocks down the door. Hence, this shows how Nicholas is taking extreme action to fully humiliate John. This reveals that Nicholas is callous and uncaring that he will not only sleep with John's wife but also wishes to humiliate him further in the process. The use of enjambment over lines 405-410 reflect the idea that Nicholas has fully thought out the plan before he has told John, and has covered every detail. For example "I have found in myn astologie, As I have looked in the moone bright, That now a Monday next...". This continuation of a sentence over 5 lines demonstrates how Nicholas knows exactly what to say in that he has no need to pause and think about what he should say next - his delivery of the plan to John is flawless. ...read more.

Middle

This shows that Nicholas not only has no consideration for the holy sacrament between man and wife, but also shows no respect for the church. Nicholas does not only mock or blaspheme by telling John he had a vision from God, but throughout the passage where Nicholas is telling John his plan, Nicholas repeatedly refers to the plan being of God, and hence shows complete disrespect for the church. This could again be linked to Chaucer's purpose in the poem of showing that the Church should not be taken seriously, which would be controversial at the time when the poem was written as the Black Death was rife. The church claimed to offer numerous "cures" for the Black Death, and preachers claimed that God would protect those who were religious. However when the plague reached the ministers in the church, they fled. Hence showing hypocrisy in that they have preached saying it is God's plan whether people die or not. Therefore, the Miller's tale is perhaps representing this irony of the church in that they say one thing, and do another. Both the foolishness of John, and profanity of Nicholas are shown again when Nicholas is telling John he cannot sleep with his wife the night before the 'flood' - "thy wife and thou...bitwixe yow shal be no sinne". ...read more.

Conclusion

Another instance of the detail of the plan and how much it has been thought through is shown by the fact Nicholas says "noon of us ne speke nat a word". The use of alliteration by the repetitive use of the "n" sound in this quote, makes it stand out from what Nicholas has been saying, and thus emphasises the importance that John must not speak as no one will reply - as Alison and Nicholas will not be there to respond. This in depth planning again shows the fact that the sin of adultery Alison and Nicholas will commit cannot be excused with lust or passion, as they have planned in such detail. The use of the phrase "Thanne shaltou swimme as mirie...as dooth the white doke after hire drake" describes how they will float along in their barrels after the rain is over, however the use of "white doke" is a reference to the white dove that Noah sent out to ensure that the rains were over and the flood was complete. Therefore Chaucer is ensuring Nicholas is linking what they will do, to what Noah did in order to make the whole idea more credible. It also suggests a flattery to John in that the duck is a reference to Alison, and the drake a reference to himself, hence Alison will follow John pleasantly as a wife should. ...read more.

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