British Soc & Lit 1 Blog Post 1 (Miller’s Tale / Wife of Bath)

“The Miller’s Tale” & “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” from Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1386)

Blog posts due: Friday, March 23

Write a post here of two paragraphs (about 200 words) discussing “The Miller’s Tale” or “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.” Choose one topic, or make your post a reply to someone else’s post.

  1. Is the Miller’s Tale disgusting or offensive, or just silly? Why might people find it funny?
  2. Do you feel sorry for John the husband, or does he get what he deserves?
  3. Some feminists have noticed that everyone in the Miller’s Tale is punished in some way, except for Alison, who does what she wants. Is this correct, or fair?
  4. Is there some kind of moral lesson in the Miller’s Tale?
  5. What is either story saying about love?
  6. What is the Wife of Bath saying about marriage in her tale?
  7. Do you agree with the Wife of Bath’s logic or arguments? Do they make sense?
  8. Although the Wife of Bath wins over her husband, he is still technically a rapist. Is he a sympathetic character? Do you like him?
  9. Is Alison or the Wife of Bath a stronger woman? What do you think Chaucer thinks of women in these stories?

14 thoughts on “British Soc & Lit 1 Blog Post 1 (Miller’s Tale / Wife of Bath)

  1. Song Yoo Hyeong

    Q: Some feminists have noticed that everyone in the Miller’s Tale is punished in some way, except for Alison, who does what she wants. Is this correct, or fair?

    A: When I first met the Miller’s Tale, I found out Alison just slips out from any punishment. I should say that she needs to get what she deserves. Because, if you already read the Miller’s tale, you’ll notice that Alison doesn’t push away Nicolas. She wants to have sex with him, not her old husband John. If she got away from Nicolas, Nicolas wouldn’t have cheated on John by adapting Noah’s flood in Bible. This poor carpenter believes Nicolas’s lie too much that he makes himself a fool frightened of Noah’s flood. In conclusion, Alison is responsible for her husband’s disgrace.
    Besides, Alison doesn’t treat Absalom that well. Although Absalom actually loves her, she acts so rude to his love. She’s in love with Nicolas, of course. The way she refuses Absalom’s proposal depends on how she thinks about him. And she chooses to “let her bum out of window”? After kissing her bum, Absalom gets furious and tries to do revenge. He takes the hot blade to stab her, and Nicolas gets his bum burned accidentally. In short, if Alison didn’t make Absalom angry, Nicolas wouldn’t have hurt. So this is my opinion: Alison isn’t punished at all, which is quite unfair.

    1. Melanie Movileanu

      I think if we go deeper, Alison is the one who will suffer the most in the long term. Nicolas is a womanizer, I do not think that he really loves her, he just wanted a night full of passion with her, he got it. Now he will move to someone else. Absalom is young and handsome, he will find a young, pretty girl and they will be happy together. John is blind, but his blindness serves as his own protection.
      However, our poor Alison, everything she has is her husband that she does not love. She can be occasionally someone’s mistress, but she will be forever the one night stand. All her youth she will spend with her old husband. By the time he will die, she will be neither young, nor beautiful, because beauty fades away as time passes. She will not be able to find a young and handsome guy. Most likely, her second husband will be just “another John”. She will live the same thing again, and again, and again. This is her punishment. A superficial life, shared with superficial men. I think her punishment is the most horrible. She is just too young and silly to understand what is waiting for her. Yes, we can do whatever we want, but we always pay for what we do. Just my thoughts.

      1. Byeongrak Lim

        I am surprised at your opinion. I agree with some of your opinion. Everyone in the town would know that Nicolas and Alison tried to have his husband gone away from her life. And I guess, at that time, dedication to one’s husband valued as the most thing that woman should carry. So, Alison may be condemned as a whore. No men would marry her and some might try to have a one night stand with her, even though they are married. There’s no difference between what Alison did and what they would do, but only how long that relationship persist. It would be the heaviest punishment in the long term.
        But if I line up them by hierarchy, Alison would be at the top. She had a chance to choose which man who she’s going to love. She also could abandon Nicolas and have Absalom like she did to Nicolas and John. And she abused her position mocking Absalom who shows pure love to Alison. Also she betrayed John’s love and make fun of him with Nicolas. I take it as she enjoyed that power. So, the one who has most power gets the heaviest punishment is acceptable to me.

  2. Alina Kim

    In my personal opinion, the author of “The Miller’s Tale” Ceoffey Chaucer wants to show us that all people are responsible for what they do. In the whole story we could see the consequences of what they did. For instance, John had broken his arm and was considered as crazy in the entire town because of his blind love. In Nicolas’s case, the reason of his burnt bum was his horrible joke about the feelings of Absalom.
    We could say that Alison was the only who did what she wanted to without any punishment. But, I suppose that the only person who will pay for mistakes the most is Alison. Nicolas would not be with Alison, because all the passion had gone and he can find another young and beautiful girl. For Alison there is nothing else to do except of living with her old husband John until his death hour. Alison did what she wanted to and her punishment is to regret about what she has done. Finally, I should also mention that the lesson I have gained from this tale is that no matter what the reason is, we should never hide the truth. Sometimes life puts us in tough situations but, we should understand all the consequences and all the potential risks of our decisions.

  3. Hye Joon Jeon

    Q. Although the Wife of Bath wins over her husband, he is still technically a rapist. Is he a sympathetic character? Do you like him?

    A. I have some reason to choose this question over other questions. Because I felt irony when I read this story. I think ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’ has feminist perspective. But When we read the story, old woman wants to marry the knight. As stated in the question, he is technically a rapist. I don’t know why an old woman wants to marry a rapist. I rather felt sorry for the old woman in their marriage. The idea of marrying an old ugly woman makes the Knight more sympathetic.
    If I were the author of the story, I would have punished him severely. It just felt irony that the other ladies and the queen begged the king for rapist life. And it is regret that the story about a woman who was raped was omitted from the tale. Of course, this story is not about the social aspects of the time. It shows Ideal appearance of Knights and the position of woman in society. Also, I was remember one memorable fact that professor told us. That was ” In the middle ages, rape of a woman is not a personal crime, but a crime of property. ” In the end, regardless of his criminal record, I don’t like the Knight who looks affirmative male image.

    1. Melanie Movileanu

      100% agree. It is so strange that women in the story wanted to cover him up. I think it was because he raped a daughter of one peasant that no one really cared about. If he had raped the queen instead of that poor girl, I do not think that they would have begged for his life. And that stupid question: ”What do women want?” Huh, not to raped or treated like trash. That would be a good beginning. ”But no, because he is a young and handsome knight, let’s forgive him!” It really upsets me that he rapes a girl and gets away with it. I know exactly how he should been punished.

  4. Yoo Jieun

    Q. Is there a different message in the ‘Wife of Bath’s’ tale?

    A. My biggest questions about the wife of Bath was, why would a intelligent woman fall in love with a idiot like the knight? At first I assumed maybe she wanted to mary a socially high ranked man but as soon as I finished reading the tale, I knew I was wrong. Then I came crossed with an interesting theory. We all know the main lesson in the story was that women want their own voice. So, maybe the other message in this tale is that women have the right to chose their own men. like the hag did with her husband. And plus, by giving the knight a so called socially hight rank male a lesson, women show their dominants over man. That men can be matured depending on the women they come a cross.

  5. lee ji won

    What is the Wife of Bath saying about marriage in her tale?

    The bath’s tale was symbolized about her story. In her tale, there were one knight, who is immature and the other one was an old woman, who is wise and old. One day they he raped a woman and caused him to death, this contents shows grown man is childish. And with queen Author’s mercy the knight postponed his death and she gives him a deadline to solve problem. One day he met an old women and tells his story. Later on the witch solve his problem. The answer was “winning on bed.” So this mean, woman’s right was not strong at that time, so woman is wanted to conquer the man. For reward, she asked to marry with her, but he refused to do it. By the bothersome noise he chose to marry the old woman. For upset husband she told, “when appearance is gorgeous, it can’t be ladylike. But I’m ladylike.” This contents shows appearance is not a big deal, but choosing wiser wife is more important. And shows man is too childish, woman have to teach them, leads them. In conclusion, I think bath want to say, appearance is not important thing, choosing wiser wife helps guide better life.

  6. Soyeon Kim

    Is the Miller’s Tale disgusting or offensive, or just silly? Why might people find it funny?

    To be honest, right after I finished to read the Miller’s Tale, I found myself feeling a little bit confused. Of course, I know it was my first time to read some stories which was made pretty long time ago so it can be little strange for me. Anyway in this story, the most shocking things were the relationship between the characters and the behavior of them. One woman who is married and lots of men around her.. Even they don’t feel any guilty while they are cheating. Moreover they do whatever to get their goal, like making a husband fool to sleep with other young man or prepare to stab a woman with a burned knife for revenge.
    I think all of these factors are not that ordinary but could be funny for readers. Usually, people find interesting points from unusual and unrealistic scenes in dramas or films. I think it is same about the book. We can’t do everything that we want like the characters in Miller’s Tale in real life. So instead of their action, they can get vicarious satisfaction through reading stories.

  7. Kyungho Lee

    Is the Miller’s Tale disgusting or offensive, or just silly? Why might people find it funny?

    I find the Miller’s tale rather confusing at first. It is not that I didn’t understand the content itself, I just felt indifferent about the events that have unfolded. Which is understandable, as even a single gap of a generation already creates a considerable amount of dissonant values, thus I simply do not expect that this tale to cater to our modern taste, nor it should be.

    Personally, one of the leading cause is being exposed to more blatantly absurd materials. I always liked black comedies and I could say I was familiar with them earlier than the others around my age. Which is why this tale simply isn’t enough to cut it, as the bar has been raised since. Even though I have read it a few more times and can see why this might seem funny, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that something was holding it back. I can think of a few reasons that it was written this way, but it doesn’t change the fact that I crave for something more.

    Therefore, I agree with the notion that this was intended to be silly, but it simply falls in short in terms of intensity to leave a lasting impression.

  8. Park ByungJun

    Q. Is there some kind of moral lesson in the Miller’s Tale?

    When I started to read this story, I thought this would be another moralizing classic story. Some characters were doing immoral things, such as cheating on one’s husband or seducing someone else’s wife. On the other hand, some were rather moral. John, for instance, he is very jealous but he didn’t do anything wrong compared to other characters. John is too naive to notice Nicolas trying to fool him.
    According to these information, I thought all the characters except John would be punished. But it was not. Every characters were punished in each ways including Alison. It was like chaos at the end of the story. Characters were screaming, hurt, and others laughing at them. At this point, I thought this Miller’s Tale is not made for moral lessons. I felt the tale is made just for fun and passing times for pilgrims. Although Chaucer intentionally re-constructed the miller’s story to tell people of those days some kind of moral lessons, I personally think that there’s nothing to learn about in this story nowadays.

  9. Kim do won

    1. Is the Miller’s Tale disgusting or offensive, or just silly? Why might people find it funny?

    When I read Miller’s Tale, I think it is funny and many people will like this. Why it is popular and makes some fun although it has lots of disgusting expression? I think there are two reasons. First reason is realistic. Even if it is some exaggeration, it is realistic than other tales. People love realistic tale because they think it can happen to me. So, they can empathy to this tale more easily. Immoral intimacy is not common but that exists in real world. Also many people worry about that problem. Consequently, I think it is one reason of popularity.

    Second reason is a morality tale. At the end of this tale, characters who get immorality mind or behave like offender are punished. John had broken his arm. Nicolas had hurt his bum. Absalom couldn’t make love with Alison. Alison had lost her honesty, faith and Nicolas too. Many people want to punish a man who loses his own morals. A lot of popular tales, they have also ethical problems and solve it by punishment. Outwardly, this tale is ridiculous and provocative. But when I read this tale twice, it is not only funny story but also moral story. I think this two reasons is why many people love ‘Miller’s Tale’.

  10. Lee InKyeong

    2.Do you feel sorry for John the husband, or does he get what he deserves?

    John was blinded by love and made a stupid decision and he gets what he deserves for it. At first, I thought there’s no need to punish John for just marrying pretty Alison. At the same time, I feel strange about myself that I don’t feel sorry for him. Then I get to understand that John is a fool who falls in love just by her look and makes a stupid decision. When John decided to marry Alison, it should have been only her appearance that helped him decide. He didn’t care what’s in Alison’s head. However, Alison is not just a pretty looking woman. She knows how she looks and she is smart enough to use it.

    Not every beautiful females act like Alison. Some of them would be loyal to their husbands. If John met other person who is beautiful and loyal to his husband rather than Alison, his ending wouldn’t be a crazy man of the town. If John made more careful decision, he wouldn’t have married a woman who cheats on her husband. He was attracted by her look and fall in love with it. Then he made an awful decision to marry Alison. Thus we can’t say that he has done nothing wrong. All that he suffers come from what he has chosen.

  11. Hassaan Sheikh

    4. I don’t think there is any moral lesson in the Miller’s Tale. Not all stories need to have a lesson attached to them, and it’s okay for the story to exist purely for entertainment. The only character in the story that didn’t do anything wrong, John, ended up breaking his arm. Nothing bad happened to Alison, even though she cheated on her husband. If the Miller’s Tale was trying to teach a lesson, it would be that you can cheat on your partner and get away with it, which wouldn’t make any sense.

    Many of the major plot points in the story are comedic, such as the John hanging his bathtubs and Absolom burning Nicolas’s bum. Chaucer most likely intended this story to be purely for entertainment and let other stories, such as the Wife of Bath’s Tale, have a lesson attached to it.

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