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Main Themes Of The Wife of Bath’s Tale And The Miller’s Tale From Canterbury Tales

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The classic from Jeffry Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, is a collection of 24 stories written in the Middle Ages, where Chaucer appoints to all segments of the medieval social issues. Many people believe that, The Wife of Bath’s Tale and The Miller’s Tale are the best of all those 24 stories. However, The Miller’s Tale have certain details that make it stand out from the rest of Chaucer’s work. The Miller’s Tale is better, for it is easier to follow, it is funnier, and it has a different perspective about love and marriage than the rest of the people do.

Even Though, The Penguin Classics book, written between 1940’s and 1960’s, is a translated version of the The Canterbury Tales to the modern english, It is still sometimes hard to understand, except for the Miller’s tale for being a complex and shorter story. In the book we read the following, “The fellow was a carpenter by trade, his lodger a poor student who had made some studies in the arts, but all his fancy turned to astrology and geomancy”(105). Clearly, we can understand that the Miller isintroducing some of the main characters in the story_ the carpenter and the student. The Carpenter being a and old man, and the lodger being a poor students who likes astrology and geomancy. According to the Miller’s Tale this story is about a love triangle, “ That in the end she promised him she would, swearing she’d love him, with a solemn promise To be at his disposal, by St Thomas When she could spy an opportunity. ‘My husband is so full of jealousy, Unless you watch your step and hold your breath I know for certain it would be my death”(107) Due to the quote, we can understand that The Miller’s Tale is the story of a cunning clerk who wants to trick a not-so-bright carpenter in order to get the carpenter’s wife into bed.

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The Miller’s Tale should be tragic, because a lot of horrible things happen to the characters, however; Chaucer decided to make it humorous by representing the Miller like he was drunk while telling the story. Nicholas, the guest, is really troubling and naughty character. However, the carpenter falls for Nicholas’s trick straight away, showing his foolishness, “This silly carpenter then went his way muttering to himself , ‘alas the day!’ and told his wife in strictest secrecy. She was aware, far more indeed than he, what this quaint stratagem might have in sight, but she pretended to be dead with fright”. (116) Basically, the Miller’s is trying to show us how Nicholas and Alison are making fun of the carpenter, it is kind of sad that the first though the carpenter had when Nicholas told him what was going to happen was, how to save his wife from the catastrophe, but it also funny because using common sense, the tubs would not help them survive if it would be real. This is really ironic because the reader knows it is a trick and people will think the carpenter is simple for believing so quickly, while at the same time he believes he is smart. Chaucer tries to punish each character according to his or her flaw, for example, here we have Nicholas after his plan worked perfectly, “ But his hot iron was ready; with a thump he smote him the middle of the rump. Where the hot coulter struck and burnt it out. Such was the pain, he thought he must dying and, mad with agony, he started crying, ‘ Help! Water! Water! Help! For heaven’s love’” (121) Although, he ended up with a burn on his butt, he accomplished his goal of having sex with Alison, likewise, he leaves the carpenter as completely fool. The Miller’s Tale is also illustrating the idea about marriage, and it points out the importance of equality and mutual respect between a husband and wife. The Miller used topics such as jealousy and infidelity to show the reader what happened when there is no respect and trust in a relationship, In the tale we meet two men, Nicholas and Absalon, both try to engage in adulterous relationship with Alison, the old man’s wife. Both of the men are guilty of trying to seduce Alison, which shows their disinterest towards laws of marriage. However; many people believe that The Wife of Bath is right about her opinion on marriage, since men are just slaves and their job is to provide women sex and money, “ I will have a husband yet Who shall be both my debtor and my slave”(280) It is true that, men should not treat women as an object, but it is also truth that women should respect men as equal. Therefore, The Miller’s thoughts about marriage are far superior from the Wife of Bath’s, for The Miller hold the stereotypical thought that a man should pursue and hopefully marry a younger woman, contrary to the Wife of Bath who had been married three times with old men just for their money.

Although some readers may object that The Wife of Bath Tale is the best one, I would answer that the Miller’s Tale is far superior for it shows the reader you need to be cunning to get what you want. In conclusion, in The Miller’s Tale, Chaucer invented comic events, that made this tale the funniest and the most interesting one. Unlike The Wife’s Tale, this tale is simpler in structure and it is told in a serious way.

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Main Themes Of The Wife of Bath’s Tale And The Miller’s Tale From Canterbury Tales. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
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