The Miller’s tale is the story of a carpenter and his wife, Alison. Alison is portrayed as a young, pretty and fun-loving girl. Her husband, John the carpenter is the complete opposite, old and dull. The contrast of the two adds interest to the poem. Alison has an affair with Nicholas, a student staying at her husband’s inn. In order to spend the night together they play a trick on the Carpenter. The Miller tells the tale and he likes telling dirty stories, as Chaucer explains in the general prologue.
“He was a jangler and a goliardais – and that was most of sin and harlotries. ” The Miller’s tale is a fabliau, and there are some crude parts, especially to do with the embarrassment of Absolon, another character in the tale. Though Chaucer does warn us before reading it “Turn over the leef and chese another tale,” if you do not like such stories. Chaucer detaches himself from anything the Miller says in the story, he does not take any blame.
At the start of the tale there is a lengthy description of Alison, on how beautiful and well dressed she is. “Fair was this yonge wife,” as she is only eighteen years of age. A lot of the description focuses on the way she is dressed. “A ceint she wered, barred all of silk, a barmecloth as white as morne milk. ” Her clothes are very beautiful and of fine quality, like her silk belt. Chaucer tells us that a lot of her clothes are white. “A barmecloth as white as morne milk,” and “The tapes of hir white voluper,” are examples of this.
By this description Chaucer gives us the impression that she is a pure character, like an angel, very pretty and not a sinner. Though a lot of the description compares Alison to different elements of nature, animals and plants. This shows that she seems pure and sweet, but she can also be wild and carefree. “As any wesel her body gent and small. ” This says Alison is slim and small and compares her to the weasel, which would not be much of a compliment today, but maybe would in Chaucer’s day.
“More blissful to see than the new perejonette tree,” which compares her to another part of nature, the newly branched tree, growing up and becoming prettier everyday. She even has a voice like a bird; “hir song, it was loud and yerne, as any swallow. ” She is very young and playful, one of the main reasons why she is not suited to the old carpenter. “She coude skip and make game as any kid or calf. ” Chaucer also shows her sweetness in quotes like “A hoord of apples laid in hay or heeth,” and “She was a primrole a piggesnye.
” This compares her to flowers, and apples in honey, yet more elements of nature. There is a love triangle in the story, as there are three men in love with Alison. Alison is only young and Chaucer describes her as being very beautiful. The first man in love with her is her husband John. The second man is Nicholas, the student who she is having an affair with. Last of all is poor Absolon, the parish clerk. The love triangle adds humour to the tale, as we see some rejected and others fooled. It also shows the great contrast between the people in love.