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

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Introduction

English Literature 'The Miller's Tale' - Geoffrey Chaucer Character Analysis - Nicholas Nicholas, the student lodger of John the carpenter, can be recognised as the 'hero' of the Chaucer's 'The Miller's Tale' - he's handsome, well accomplished and self-assured. He lives comfortably in a private room in the nicer part of town, complete with a private income that allows him to indulge in his fascination with astrology. Nicholas, with his mixture of private education, outrageous sense of humour and eager pursuit of love is a type still recognizable today. His sharp wits and intelligence is displayed by the ingenuity of his plan and the clever psychological approach he takes, in order to deceive the "sely" carpenter. He's acknowledged as "hende Nicholas", however, his behaviour doesn't correlate with the usual definition of the word, meaning courteous, but it seems as though the Miller has repeatedly labelled his hero as 'handy'. The reader learns of his intelligence immediately, "hadde lerned art" and also of his enthrallment in astrology. ...read more.

Middle

Along with astrological interest, Nicholas has other accomplishments too, as he is able to both play a musical instrument and can be heard singing songs such as the "Kings Noote" and "Angelus ad virginum". Instead of being introduced to Nicholas through a physical description, it is his room that is described to the reader, and so through this we learn more about Nicholas himself and are provided with an insight into his other interests. Within the room, there is his astrological equipment for forecasting the weather, along with a bookcase stocked with costly books. We are told that his room is decorated with "herbes swoote" and Nicholas also has a "gay sautrie" which he uses to accompany his singing. The character of Nicholas is evoked through his possessions. The sole fact that Nicholas lives "withouten any compaignie" indicates that he is more well off than other students and the fact that his room furnished comfortably and contains costly possessions denotes that he's not so interested in studying. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although Nicholas seems to have triumphed, it can be seen that his over self-confidence merits the punishment he receives at the hands of Absolon, intended for Alison. It spite of Nicholas's craftiness and dishonesty, the Miller engineers the story so that the reader likes Nicholas. He does this by making John seem deserving of the punishment of being cuckolded for his unwise marriage and ensuing jealousy. The reader is less critical of Nicholas due to his youth and intelligence and it is the comical manner of the tale which makes his conduct seem less worthy of reprimand that would ordinarily be the case. It is apparent that Nicholas is a more suiting partner for Alison than John and it's the repetition of "hende Nicholas" that encourages us as the reader to be more approving. In conclusion, the reader should note that Nicholas does not go unpunished for his actions as his over-confidence and lack of discretion earns him the appropriate punishment of being "scalded in the towte" by his rival, Absolon. ...read more.

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