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"How does Chaucer use or adapt the literary conventions of fabliaux and courtly romance in "The Miller's Tale"?"

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Introduction

"How does Chaucer use or adapt the literary conventions of fabliaux and courtly romance in "The Miller's Tale"?" In this essay I am going to reveal how Chaucer uses and adapts the literary conventions of fabliaux and courtly romance in "The Miller's Tale". Chaucer plays around with the conventions of fabliau and courtly romance engaging the idea of a carnival narrative, which uses the reversal of roles. There is also a Latin saying the sprouts from this: "bais cul", which means, "kiss my ass" and basically sets the tone of "The Miller's Tale". Fabliau is a mediaeval verse narrative written for and by aristocrats in whom they make fun at the social appirations and customs of the middle classes. This is the first in the mockery. For the narrator is the miller who is brawny and big boned (L. 548 of The General Prologue) and would steal corn then charge three times the price for it to be brought back (L. 564 of The General Prologue). A man who has no social class whatsoever. ...read more.

Middle

Both Nicholas and Absolon try to woo Alison. Both are youthful and vigorous but their approach to Alison is very different. Absolon is more of a courtly lover this is shown through his singing to Alison (L. 250) and sending gifts (L. 270), even though the gifts themselves were wine, honey spiced ales and money (L. 272) are not courtly gifts. His wooing goes unheeded and is, of course, too far down the social scale to be seen as courtly for is just a perish clerk (L. 204). Nicholas uses a lot of language of love (L. 172-173). For example, sweetheart and claiming that he will die if he cannot have Alison but is undercut by his obvious lustful actions: grabbing Alison by the "queynte" (L. 168). This gives a humorous contrast to the seriousness of the love in "The Knight's Tale", and also reminds us that the ultimate purpose of courtly love, no matter how noble it sounded, is sexual conquest. When introducing a Lady, all narrative is stopped, and she is described in physical detail using conventional metaphors and similes. Alison is first shown as charming (L. ...read more.

Conclusion

When the Hero is described it is in terms of his conquests and character. Nicholas is described in the courtly romance conventions, by his character and conquests, although his conquests and character are not honourable. He knows all about love, sexual pursuits and astrology (L. 92, 94, 100). He is also described as "hende" (L. 91), which means "nice" and "pleasant", but also means "sly" and "handy" in other words ready for action, which is very ironic. When Absolon is described he is undercut by his effeminate description. With prettily curled hair (L.206), rosey complexion (L.209) and his dislike for farting (L.229-230), he is described as a romance lady rather than a man. Plus a courtly romance man is never described in physical detail. Unlike Nicholas he is not "hende" but "jolly" (L.231), perhaps that explains why he is useless in wooing Alison. Against the conventions of courtly romance and fabliaux Chaucer also uses everyday language and imaginary that are taken from and are descriptions of everyday life in the provinces in mediaeval England. This gives realism to the story, for example, John going to Osney on business (L. ), Alison's clothes (L. ), Nicholas's belongings (L. ), and the curfew bell (L. ). ...read more.

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