The Reeve’s Tale

There were a couple of lines in the Reeve’s tale that were especially memorable for me since they kind of helped to link the fabliaux to the knight’s tale and set these two in even more striking contrast. I mean the lines 4270-4272 where the miller discovers Aleyn’s deed and asks him in rage how he dares to dishonor his daughter who has come of such lineage. What I noticed that was that the language of these lines sounds very noble and elevated as if a knight might utter them, while concerns about one’s lineage were in general the main preoccupation of nobles at the time. When we think of the miller’s daughter’s “lineage” then it’s basically being a secret granddaughter to a parson who shouldn’t even have children. Therefore, the whole notion of lineage and the values and responsibilities it traditionally encompasses seems to be twisted and turned in very grotesque ways when we add to this the vulgar context of these couple of lines. I think Chaucer kind of illustrates here how some of the ideals we saw followed in the knight’s tale were “translated” into the world views of lower class people. I didn’t quite know what to make of this contrast and Chaucer’s possible intentions but I do think the relationship between the fabliaux and the Greek legend is ambivalent and that it simultaneously adds seriousness to the latter while taking away some of its credibility.

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