The description of Absolon’s ironic unsuccessful ‘courtly love’ actions and pursuits, in the passage between 244 and 290, demonstrate the importance of effictio parody and the pathetic nature of his character. The physical humour of the fabliau is exhibited when Absolon serenades ‘in his vois gentil and smal’ underneath the bedroom window of the carpenter and his wife. Courtly lovers were expected to indeed compose songs for his lady but also to keep his love secret to protect her reputation, serving to exacerbate the challenge that he must face to gain her favour in return. It is hilarious the way in which Absolon, on the other hand, attempts to charm Alison in full hearing of her husband.
Absolon uses intermediaries and sends Alison gifts of ‘piment, meeth and spiced ale,’ to his own humiliation. As Absolon’s love longing grows, as does the comedy of his speeches to Alison. In lines 589 to 599 he tries once again to receive a kiss for his ‘faire bird.’ However, the language used only serves to increase the mockery of his already ridiculous character. The lexis used is successful in undermining any trace of masculinity or virility. The fact that he ‘swetes’ and ‘moornes as dooth a lamb after the tete,’ due to his longing for Alison, is quite a comic image in itself. The similes he employs for himself such as the ‘turtel trewe’ or a ‘maide’ affirm his effeminate image and increases Nicholas and Alison’s status over him.
Therefore contrast in the two young men’s methods in ‘wooing’ Alison; serve to add symmetry to the comedy of the fabliau. Nicholas’ inventiveness and cunning in the pseudoreligious prediction of the second Flood, preparations for which send John to his “wery bisynesse” that puts him into a “dede sleep”, is the lynch-pin of the scheme to cuckold John. The plan could be observed as the ‘task’ that Nicholas has to undertake in order to spend a night with Alison, again exhibiting the parody in the fabliau. His cynical, unscrupulous and blasphemous personality traits lead to the intended outcome of the tale, in which John while asleep in the roof is cuckolded by his wife and lodger.
However, the unintended outcome of the ‘misplaced kiss’ would have not been possible for the presence of the Absolon’s character. The building of his beseeching of Alison together with the little details of his squeamishness and of the ‘shot-window’ of the house, bring about the first climax of the poem. The comedic value is hightened by the fact that Absolon adhors indelicate bodily functions and tries to remove the kiss with whatever means possible. The unrefined humour of the fabliau is shown through the thoughts of Absolon, being repeated in the exclamation of Nicholas.
“For wel he wiste a womman hath no berd.” (Line 629) “A berd! A berd!” Quod nicholas.” (Line 634) The adjustment of one noun with refernce to pubic hair, into one meaning a clever trick parallels to lines 167-8 and is a subtle device employed by Chaucer. Chaucer’s skillful use of the genre in implying a moral, if not explicitly pointing to one, by creating allegorical figures in Nicholas, John, and Absolon who stand respectively for “carnality, temporality, flattery” or by dramatizing an ordered universe based on the natural attraction of youth, the danger of an unequal marriage, and the dominance of instinct over reason.
Both Nicholas and Absolon know the ways of wooing, and though the former is more successful, the latter employs a greater variety of methods, including talk, serenades, and gifts. It is the manner in which Absolon undertakes these actions that deem him suitable to be a fabliau fool. Nicholas is cunning and intellegant, qualities which are seen desirable and permittable in the fabliau genre. Nicholas is exonerated in the tale because of his antecedents in the clerc amant, who always goes free in the fabliau and Absolon is satirized for his exaggerated courtly wooing of Alison. Therefore the comedic and satritical farce would not be complete without the interactions and both obvious or subtle contrasts and comparisons between the two characters of Nicholas and Aboslon.