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'The Miller's Tale' - Geoffrey Chaucer - Character Analysis - Absolon

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English Literature 'The Miller's Tale' - Geoffrey Chaucer Character Analysis - Absolon Similarly to Alison, Absolon is introduced through an extensive description and is arguably the most interesting of all the characters in the tale as he is portrayed with a detail and complexity not matched in the other portraits. Ostensibly, he resembles Nicholas in that he's an attractive, youthful man with many talents, however, unlike Nicholas he's portrayed as ridiculous to the Miller's audience. Absolon's part of the tale, though peripheral to the main theme, is extensive and crucial. In portrait-painting, his description is as vivid and detailed, if not more so, than that of Alison's, as the effeminate young buck, fastidious in both appearance and habits whilst also being over-dressed to the point of ridicule, "with poules window corven on his shoes". Apart from self-adoration, Absolon's energies are spent on self-advertisement, in both socializing and flirting, and in making himself useful in such activities where company and gossip are the essential ingredients. He enjoys being the centre of attention, displayed in his carrying of the censer around in church, and relishes in playing at being in love with both the parish wives and the barmaids of the town. ...read more.


In his general attire, as in his preparations for his nocturnal visit to Alison (we know she is with Nicholas, but Absolon is in the dark) there is fastidious attention to detail: the red hose, the white surplice, the "pointes" and the fashionable shoes; the arraying at "point-devis", the chewing of grain and liquorice, the placing of the "trewe-love" under the tongue. Absolon has a variety of interests, from blood-letting to conveyancing, but is not master of any trade. He takes his "smal rubible" around the inns of Oxford, but his voice is high-pitched, and, when he serenades Alison, quavering as a nightingale's song: excellent in the bird, but affected in a man (Nicholas sings sweetly, we learn). Even when carrying out his clerical duties, Absolon poses: he is excessively vigorous in "sensing the wives", he eyes them up, and refuses their alms, as if these were due to him, not to the work of the church. In the Knight's Tale, the etiquette of courtly love is seriously presented as a code of conduct to be followed by the noble cousins. ...read more.


Absolon is not merely heartbroken that his beloved has turned out to be a base peasant, nor even only angry at the humiliation. He is horrified by the contact, and desperately tries to remove the kiss, rubbing his lips with dust, sand, straw, cloth and wood-shavings. His love is a "maladie" of which he is now "heeled". He has lost face and is prepared to harm the once-beloved Alison in retribution. The Miller sees great irony in Gervase's remarks. Having for so long struck the pose of the rejected lover, Absolon is now told that "some gay gerl" is doubtless to blame for his discomfiture. He knows how Gervase's words are apt in a sense not intended by the speaker, but cannot explain this now, and keeps his own council. One wonders how fully Absolon will, as he promises, explain to Gervase "to-morwe day" what has happened. Absolon is a poseur, whether at work, in the tavern or in his self-appointed r�le of lover, playing "Herodes upon a scaffold hye". He likes the idea of love, but seems unprepared for the physical reality of sex. There is justice in his being tricked into confronting this, and his response confirms our suspicions of him. ...read more.

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