• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Canterbury Tales: The Miller’s Tale - How does Chaucer’s portrait of Alison add to the interest of the poem?

Extracts from this document...


Danielle Turton 12D The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale How does Chaucer's portrait of Alison add to the interest of the poem? The Miller's tale is the story of a carpenter and his wife, Alison. Alison is portrayed as a young, pretty and fun-loving girl. Her husband, John the carpenter is the complete opposite, old and dull. The contrast of the two adds interest to the poem. Alison has an affair with Nicholas, a student staying at her husband's inn. In order to spend the night together they play a trick on the Carpenter. The Miller tells the tale and he likes telling dirty stories, as Chaucer explains in the general prologue. "He was a jangler and a goliardais - and that was most of sin and harlotries." The Miller's tale is a fabliau, and there are some crude parts, especially to do with the embarrassment of Absolon, another character in the tale. Though Chaucer does warn us before reading it "Turn over the leef and chese another tale," if you do not like such stories. Chaucer detaches himself from anything the Miller says in the story, he does not take any blame. At the start of the tale there is a lengthy description of Alison, on how beautiful and well dressed she is. "Fair was this yonge wife," as she is only eighteen years of age. ...read more.


We know that if Alison had any choice then she would not be married to this old carpenter, but back then, marriages were often arranged. The second man in love with Alison is hende Nicholas. Nicholas is a student of astronomy, who is lodging at the Carpenter's inn. Nicholas is also young and much more suited to Alison that the Carpenter is. He declares his love for Alison in a way that is not too courtly, "And prively he caught her by the quaint." This is not a very romantic way to court someone. You would not expect Alison to accept, but after much persistence from Nicholas, "Lemmen, love me all atones or I wol dien!" she agrees to meet with him. Alison warns him it must be a great secret "Ye moste been full derne as in this cas," and Nicholas swears he will not say a word. This is not the type of love in stories like the Knight's Tale. They are simply attracted to each other, making it closer to lust than love. There is a lot of description of Absolon, the parish clerk who is also in love with Alison. The description is a very feminine one, describing his fancy clothes "His rode was red" "Curl was his hair." Chaucer seems to be mocking Absolon, making fun of his ways, and embarrassing him in the end. ...read more.


There is a certain amount of realism to the tale. The love triangle is quite common in every day life, with more than one man in love with a particular woman. Affairs are regular occurrences when someone is unhappy with their marriage, and that is exactly the situation with John and Alison. They live in what would be a modern version of a rural environment. No one is particularly rich, and not many are too poor. The tale shows many different characters and the things they get up to, but it all links in the end. Absolon, feeling embarrassed and hurt, gets his revenge on Nicholas, causing Nicholas to cry out for water, causes the Carpenter to think the flood has started. The three men are all in some kind of pain, while Alison gets no blame at all. The main reason why Alison is such an interesting character is because she is so attractive. This leads to the love triangle, which leads to drama and comedy. As the Miller explains at the beginning, his tale is simply an amusing story, a fabliau. Alison and Nicholas get away with their sin, the tricks on the Carpenter and Absolon, and, though he was avenged, he is left embarrassed and disgusted about the whole scenario nonetheless. The tale is not meant to be heart-warming or moving in anyway, and there is no moral to it. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Geoffrey Chaucer section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Geoffrey Chaucer essays

  1. The Merchant's Tale -summary

    Early in the tale, the Merchant quotes Theofrastus' Golden Book on Marriage, a direct attack on matrimony: "Ne take no wyf," quod he, "for housbondrye, As for to spare in houshold thy dispence. A trewe servant dooth moore diligence Thy good to kepe than thyn owene wyf, For she wol clayme half part al hir lyf" (ll.

  2. How Does Chaucer Present The Miller To Become Such A Vivid And Vibrant Character

    He believes the miller to be speaking obscene ribaldries. Quote; 'The Reve answerde and seide, 'Stint thy clappe! Lat be thy lewed drunken harlotrie''. (Translated as 'The Reeve answered and said, 'Stop this talk! Of your vulgar, drunken and obscene story''.) This clearly shows he disapproves of the miller's story.

  1. Compare and Contrast Chaucer’s Presentation of the Monk and the Pardoner

    He is trying to defend his actions with an argument that is absolutely absurd, hunting which is the killing of animals, is against all of the teachings of the bible which tells one to preserve and care for life. As well as devoting their lives to the monastery monks should

  2. How do the Canterbury Tales explore the idea of gender? Discuss with reference to ...

    to save her from the biblical flood that Nicholas predicts and maintains a genuinely distraught countenance at the prospect of his wife drowning. Yet Alisoun seems to be yet another possession of John's, she is used by Nicholas for sexual gratification and she is sought after by the clerk Absolon, showing Medieval patriarchy at its strongest.

  1. It is impossible to feel either sympathy or admiration for any of the characters ...

    . An example of this is apparent in Absolon's reading of the part of Herod from the mystery plays in order to impress Alison; however judging from both his appearance and pitch of his voice, the reader is aware he would be more suited to female roles.

  2. Taking together the portrait of the Miller in the 'General Prologue' with the framing ...

    Prologue' causes the reader to recognise that the Miller was of a low social class. As social status was everything in the 14th century, due to the reigning feudal system of the time, it can be realised that the Miller's position towards the end of the list of pilgrims indicates his place in the lower ranks of the social hierarchy.

  1. How do the Canterbury Tales represent female desires?

    What is the opposite to immaculate? Dirty. Again a reference to sex as filthy. Eve, on the other hand was a temptress. She encapsulates all that is wrongful in women. Vanity, cupidity and lust. Alisoun is a faithful representation of Eve. Her physical description shows us that she has many sexual attributes.

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

    Both Nicholas and Absolon share quite a few similarities, such as; age, cleanliness, importance of personal appearance and the ability to play a musical instrument. Nicholas possesses the ability to manipulate and persuade people who are less intelligent than him.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work