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How Is The Character Of Nicholas Presented In 'The Miller's Tale'

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Introduction

How Is The Character Of Nicholas Presented In 'The Miller's Tale' The descriptions of Nicholas in the 'Miller's Tale' portray him as a character that contrasts greatly to that of John the carpenter and Absolon. Nicholas is also a key contributor to several of the comical situations in the tale and an outlet for several of Chsucer's ironic and absurd witticisms. Nicholas is frequently mentioned to be a scholar, who 'hadde lerned art' but has now 'turned for to lerne astrologie' which shows he has followed the conventional course of medieval university students. The conventional epithet 'hende' is often used for Nicholas, in lines 91, 164, 278, 289 and 293, meaning courteous, gentle, gracious and obliging. This is an ironic description in some situations of the tale when his behaviour is nothing like this. Chaucer's mocking use of this word could be interpreted to represent the usual fate of an over-popular expression, for example 'nice' and 'lovely'. This can be see in lines 97/99 where Nicholas' room literally smelling sweet is followed by perhaps mockingly exaggerated metaphorical remarks about his own sweetness, extending Nicholas's sense of attractiveness. Nicholas' reputation as an astrologer is a key factor in the deception of the na�ve carpenter John, and thus, the sexual conquest of Alison. ...read more.

Middle

It could be possible then to deduce a lesson about the most successful methods to employ when attempting to woo women, similar to those used by Nicholas, the most successful of Alison's possible three suitors who manages to finally accept him as her lover 'she hire love him graunted ate laste'. In the execution of his intricate plan devised to enable him to finally commit adultery with Alison, Nicholas proves himself to be very intelligent. Despite the carpenter's disapproval of prying into divine secrets mentioned in line 56, Nicholas captures his interest and John submits to listening eagerly to his revelations about 'Goddes privetee' in line 346. In order to ensure John's belief and co-operation with the plan, the method in which Nicholas approaches him is crucial. Nicholas makes John initially feel privileged to know the information about the forthcoming flood when really Nicholas is covering his own back and limit the social damage that this lie will do, especially to Nicholas' reputation as an established and competent astronomer. Nicholas makes a preposterous statement in line 450, 'I wol nat tellen Goddes privetee' because he has been revealing supposedly divine secrets since line 406. ...read more.

Conclusion

Nicholas is shown to be withdrawn and fairly unsociable but well-experienced in clandestine and secret love-affairs, and when Alison warns him 'ye moste been ful deerne, as in this cas' he assures her of his competency to execute the cunning plan without the carpenters detection. Nicholas is comic in the implication that he and John are both single, guileless men whose charming innocence is symbolised by the white duck in line 468. The ironic centre of the tale is perhaps represented in the line 'a man woot litel what him shal bitide' because it is the carpenter and not Nicholas who is ignorant of what is about to happen and who, despite his comments, is eager to believe Nicholas' forecast of the forthcoming events. However, the future doe should an unforeseen shock for Nicholas who thinks himself in control of the events and also for Absolon who shortly prior to his humiliation ensures himself that 'some manner of comfort is coming his way'. The character of Nicholas is perhaps not the most significant individual personality in the tale but it is quite crucial to the comic and ironic elements that are strong themes running throughout. Nicholas is definitely the most important character in the elaborate deception plot and therefore plays quite a significant role in the climax of the tale. Z�e North 12fii ...read more.

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