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What is the importance of lines 493-548 in the context of the whole of 'The Miller's prologue and Tale'?

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Introduction

What is the importance of lines 493-548 in the context of the whole of 'The Miller's prologue and Tale'? In lines 493-548, John, the carpenter, carries out the instructions given to him by Nicholas. The extract is important to the tale as it furthers the plot, shows Chaucer's attitude towards the action, shows Chaucer's skill as a writer, heightens the realism of the tales setting and gives a clear presentation of John. The extract, and tale as a whole, show many literary forms and techniques. For example: fabliau, parody, satire and decorum. With regard to the plot, this extract is very important. It shows the culmination of Alison and Nicholas' affair, which is told by Chaucer, rather than the Miller or an omniscient narrator. This would appear to be the event that the entirety of action in the play is aiming for. In contrast to the rest of the tale, this event is less crude and not described in detail: 'And thus lith Alison and Nicholas, In bisyness of mirth and of solas.' ...read more.

Middle

This reverses typical gender roles suggesting the John is even more un-educated than hinted at by his stereotype: 'Help us to scape, or we been dede echon! I am thy trewe, verray wedded wyf' Lines 500-501 John is also ridiculed by his servants, who he sends on a false errand to London. This is more ironic as it means they will not be there to witness Alison and Nicholas' affair. In this extract, Chaucer shows 'The Miller's Tale' as a parody of the bible. The three tubs that John suspends from rafters are a representation of Noah's arc. Comedy is again created by the ignorance of John to religion as it was promised that the world would never be destroyed again. Chaucer uses a French literary form called a fabliau. This is a brief comic tale, often written in verse, which is usually insulting and obscene. Fabliaux usually target greed, hypocrisy, and pride, and they also prey upon old age, ignorance, and husbands' attempts to guard their wives' chastity. In 'The Miller's Tale' a fabliau is especially appropriate as it is plot driven with characters depicted in a particularly unflattering way, although, Chaucer uses ...read more.

Conclusion

The Miller also uses John in an attempt to antagonise the Reeve in the first layer of the tale, that Chaucer has created, of the pilgrim's themselves. The Reeve has also been cuckolded, like John, and the Miller is suggesting that the Reeve is similar to John in ignorance also. Chaucer has succeeded in creating a multi-layered network of tales to form 'The Canterbury Tales' as a whole and 'The Miller's Tale' is just a small part of this network. Lines 492-548 are important in advancing the plot of 'The Miller's Tale' and also in giving comedic entertainment to the pilgrims and the reader of the tales. The extract also furthers the plot between the pilgrims as it shows the relationships between them, for example, the feud between the Miller and the Reeve. Theses lines are also important in showing literary forms and genres used by Chaucer with great skill, from the multi-layered commentary using both himself and a fictitious character to tell the tale to the use of satire, parody and fabliau together in the tales as a whole. Mikaela Wheatley ...read more.

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