Can we just talk about this burn by the Reeve? “And, by youre levee, I shal him quite anoon; Right in his cherles termes wol I speke. I pray to God his nekke more to-breke. He kan wel in men eye seen a stalke, But in hiw owene he kan nat seen a balke.” (3917-3920). Yeah he went there.
But on to a much more academic conversation about the Reeve’s tale. I’m not really sure I can have an academic conversation about the Reeve’s tale. Because I am just so distracted by the plot and how incredibly dark this story is. I will say that, based on the conventions of the fabliau that we discussed last class I am not sure that they all ring true here. Of course this is a tale of the merchant class in a rural setting, and there is some toilet “humor” here, but I don’t think cunning plays so much a part in the outcome of this tale as opportunity does. It’s not as if John and Alan had come up with some elaborate scheme to sleep with the Miller’s wife and daughter, they just so happened to have made several mistakes that led to them staying with the Miller. Also, we can agree, that the Miller was not exactly the best person in the world, but he was the most clever character in the story and he didn’t come out victorious at all.