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

Chaucer's use of biblical material in ‘The Miller’sTale’.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

CHAUCER'S USE OF BIBLICAL MATERIAL IN 'The Miller's Tale' The biblical references and implications in 'The Miller's Tale' mockingly inter-relate the tale's sexual and vulgar content and its religious elements. It is a parody on and critique of the Church, mocking all sacred: the stories from the Bible, the saints, even the Holy Family. The 'dronken' miller commences his tale in 'Pilates voys', implying that the story will be condemning Christianity, since Pilates, according to the Bible, has condemned Jesus with his words. As the scholar clerk Nicholas and parish clerk Absolon represent St. Nicholas and Absalom, Son of David, miller sinfully compares two saints with two lustful and immoral men, who are concerned more with secular than the spiritual matters. Since carpenter John metaphorically represents Joseph and Noah, and his young wife Alison therefore represents Virgin Mary and Noah's wife, the miller this time immorally correlates Joseph/Noah and Virgin Mary/Noah's wife with a madman and a promiscuous, sly wife, when the Church forbids promiscuous behavior and implies that mad behavior is associated with the Satan. Further religious mocking is portrayed by the actions of Nicholas in the tale, as he does exact the opposite of what St. ...read more.

Middle

Nicholas further states that his plan will work because a clerk can fool a carpenter any day - a class distinction and condescension in contrast with the teachings of the Church. The entire scene encompasses several sins. First, the whole story is a lie and thus a sin. Lust, another sin, serves as the driving force behind this lie. Finally, Nicholas and Alison's intercourse out-of-wedlock for pleasure serves as the sinful result of the story. The miller therefore contorts the most holy image of Noah into a dreadful satanic scene of the tale. The fact that a man such as Nicholas sings 'Angelus ad Virgenum' is itself mocking of the Church. Carpenter John's wife Alison portrays promiscuous behavior almost continuously throughout the tale; from the sinful encounter with Nicholas, agreement to deceit her husband to her indulge in adultery. When Nicholas tells her to sleep with him immediately, or he will 'spille' (l.170) so 'God [him] save', it is another pun on religion as this 'spille' could perhaps mean 'waste the seed', God forbid, as opposed to depositing it with Alison's 'mercy' (180). Right after she and Nicholas made a plan how to arrange their next adulterous encounter, Alison goes to church, juxtaposing the profane and the sacred in the same way. ...read more.

Conclusion

Nicholas gets his punishment, and as he screams, word 'water' triggers the double action of John cutting the rope that suspends his tub as he thinks the flood came, and Nicholas acting to soothe his pain. While the Church (Catholic Church, Jewish synagogue, etc.) teaches respect for authority, ultimately invested in God, the Father, to whom the Jesus, the Son, submits, it regards adultery as a mortal sin, and teaches prudence and severe restraint in sexual matters. 'The Miller's Tale' is the opposite, as the father figure, John, is overthrown by youth, Nicholas, and ironically, by the invocation of God's authority. From a pious point of view, this story laughs at the belief that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the miller is insinuating that Jesus was conceived by Mary's unfaithfulness to Joseph, not by any Holy Spirit. As an added pun, if Absolon also symbolizes the worshippers, as he worships Alison, then the wind Nicholas passes in Absolon's face is the award for any pilgrim, worshipping 'true' beliefs in the Holy Tale of Conception and Sanctity. The miller further implies that Church's preaching against greed, blasphemy, gluttony, adultery and all things related to the Satan is hypocritical, as he parodies the sacred discipline and Church by showing characters representing the Church, behaving in all the forbidden and blasphemous manners. 3 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 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 University Degree Geoffrey Chaucer essays

  1. The Wife of Bath's Tale is an exemplum, providing an answer to the question, ...

    If the Wife of Bath is telling us that marriage is all about having sex with your spouse just so that they could give you fancy things and money in return, there is no sign of a revolutionary idea. McKinley states that "each spouse's body becomes the property of the other by virtue of the new marital alliance" (371).

  2. How Is The Character Of Absolon Presented In The Miller's Tale?

    the cencer makes a connection between him and perfume, being quite effeminate. Absolon is often described to be 'jolif' or 'joly' meaning lively or spirited, whereas Nicholas is described to be 'hende' meaning skilful and courteous. In contrast with Nicholas's description, this shows that Absolon to be pleasant but not

  1. With special reference to The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale, would you describe ...

    say sooth: the husbands that I had as three of them were good and two were bad"3 and she also considers herself an expert, which proves how headstrong she is, "Of which I am an expert in all mine age"4.The Wife does not conform to the stereotypical role of a woman in the 14th century.

  2. Fragmentation in T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land.

    to be German as she tells a story of her apparently happy and active childhood, in comparison to her now empty life ("I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter" line 18). She is followed by a speaker who again juxtaposes earlier, happier memories with startlingly

  1. 'Langland's Piers Plowman greatly influenced The Canterbury Tales'. Discuss, with particular reference to estates ...

    This levelling effect is contradictory to the ideal of estate described by Keen previously. Georges Duby, in his work on the feudal estates system, states that ideally the third estate were 'all those who did not carry the sword... and yet did not pray, whose only right was to keep silent and whose only duty was to obey'10.

  2. Literature and Dissent in the Age of Chaucer

    By using estates satire Chaucer effectively generalises the people associated with these groups and therefore dampens the blows which he may strike against the flaws of the people within those groups.

  1. Chaucer's Pardoner's tale Analysis on lines 520 through to 602

    thou do the same;" conjures up man wrestling for life, prehistoric society to find leaders, betrayal and dark tones. Each word strips the men of their innocence in the eyes of the reader, losing empathy and respect as Chaucer had intended.

  2. Commentary on 'Keeping Mum'

    This idea was supported when I collected opinions from a selection of people who read my piece who although had similar idea of the character, thought it was particularly interesting to see how each person interpreted his characteristics. I adopted the title 'Too Late?'

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