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.

The Miller’s Tale

I really like the fact that Chaucer encompasses in his Tales such a wide range of layers of society in the Middle Ages as well as different writing styles, from high to low. The Miller’s Tale was definitely an unexpected continuation from the sophisticated and elevated Knight’s Tale and I understand why Chaucer tried to make it seem like an accident in the Prologue. I don’t think, however, that this stark contrast was meant to ridicule courtly love in the previous narrative, but rather to highlight the different ways of human existence at the time and perhaps also to make the reading of the Tales more diverse by alternating serious stories with the lightly entertaining ones. Also, the Miller’s Tale definitely provides an insight into the life of the lower classes and one of the things I noticed was how prominent religious plays were at the time and how strongly they might have influenced the world-view of their audiences. The carpenter seems to be a dedicated fan of these plays in this story and the fact that he so earnestly believes what the sly scholar tells him and how he vividly imagines the great flood might perhaps indicate to Chaucer’s criticism towards the influence of these plays on more simple-minded people.