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Miller's Tale - Compare and contrast Nicholas and Absolon.

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Introduction

Assignment: Miller's Tale Compare and contrast Nicholas and Absolon. We will look at what aspects of each character are identified i.e, how they are similar, how they are different and, how other characters respond to each of them. Also looking at Chaucer's use of language and how it emphasizes their similarities and differences. Firstly lets look at Nicholas and Absolon's physical description, their build, height, hair, posture, eye colour etc. There are some strikingly obvious differences between them that should be observed. Chaucer describes Absolons eyes, 'his eyen greye as goos'. This metaphor directly contrasts his eye colour with that of the colouring of a goose's. This is jusktraposed by the fact that it can also be a term of affection. This Strange comparison with that of a goose seems unusual but effective as the reader can associate with it easily. This is a commonly used medieval comparison. Apparently the white goose was not known about in the time of Chaucer. ...read more.

Middle

He also states that the flood will be twice as terrible as Noah's and that 'thus shal mankind drenche', a direct threat to the carpenters safety. Absolon, on the other hand, possesses many more of the qualities that one would expect that a lover in a story about courtly love would have. He is described as being handsome, or at least well groomed. He involves himself in what could be described as "courtly" pursuits such as dancing (Chaucer says that he knew twenty different steps) and can play two instruments. His attempts at winning her love are more traditionally romantic. He sings under her window, sends her gifts and even money to try to earn her love. Chaucer puts the emphasize on his absolute love and desire for Alisoun, 'so wotheth hire that him is wo bigon' in modern English he is 'wretched', love sick. Chaucer uses this emotive language to make the reader feel sorry for this character. 'He waketh al the night and al the day', this reminds us of his sheer devotion, he obsesses over her which causes him to think of nothing else and have sleepless nights. ...read more.

Conclusion

Alisoun (who is at the heart of this fierce rivalry) seems to care little for Absolons attentive if somewhat obsessive desire. Pleasant Nicholas is the actual lover, but Absolon is more the stereotype of the courtly lover. She is put off by his exhuastive efforts and even finds it slightly amusing, 'she maketh Absolon hire ape and al his ernest turneth til a jape'- she ridicules all his serious attentions. Yet again Chaucer manages to emote feelings of pitty for this young, niave lover who always seems to end up trying too hard. Alison, Chaucer's imprisoned wife, is less of the ideal than both Nicholas or Absolon think she is. Certainly she is beautiful. But her beauty is slightly flawed. She is "graceful and slim like weasel." By comparing her with a weasel Chaucer makes Alisoun seem to be dirty and untrustworthy. Instead of being involved in "courtly love" there is some evidence that the relationship between Alisoun and Nicholas is one of lust. Chaucer's use of the lower class makes the absurdity of what they are doing stand out even more so. Stephen Blighe 03/05/2007 AS English and Literature ...read more.

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