Back to: Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
In this article, we will discuss The Miller’s Tale in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.
An Oxford student of astrology, familiar with the art of love, Nicholas, starts living with a rich but dumb and old carpenter, John, who is possessive and jealous of his sixteen years old beautiful wife, Alisoun.
One day, in the absence of John, Nicholas flirts with John’s wife and tries to convince her to sleep with him. Initially, she resists but eventually comes on board to sleep with Nicholas when it is safe to do so.
She is afraid of the carpenter and doesn’t want him to ever discover the affair but Nicholas assures her to handle the carpenter. Also, Absolon, a clerk, desires Alisoun as well, who gives her money, gifts and serenades every night. Alisoun, however, has no interest in Absolon for she is in love with Nicholas.
One day, according to his plot, he asks Alisoun to inform John that he is sick. John sends to look for him and servant confirms his illness. When John visits him, Nicholas narrates him the vision that he has received from God.
Carpenter believes his story of water equal to that of Noah’s flood hitting the land on Monday leading to the death of every soul.
Nicholas suggest him the way of saving his life by fastening three tubs filled with provisions and an ax to the roof of the barn, and that they would sleep in the tubs and when water would hit they’d release the tubs to float above until the water subsides.
Nicholas also warns him not to tell anyone about it for it is the command of God to stay in the tubs and just pray. On Monday night, three of them get into the tubs and when the carpenter begins to snore, Nicholas and Alisoun go to the carpenter’s room and sleep in his bed.
In the morning, Absolon stops by expecting a kiss or something from Alisoun but she makes it clear that she is in love with someone else. Absolon insists and she agrees for the kiss in the dark.
Absolon moves forward to kiss not her cheek or lips but her naked ass. To this Nicholas and Alisoun laugh but Absolon determines to take revenge.
Absolon goes the blacksmith in the town to get a hot iron poker. He comes back and asks for the kiss with the promise of a golden ring. Nicholas, this times, shows his naked ass to the window and farts.
Absolon burns his ass with the hot iron poker o which Nicholas cries for help. Hearing the cries of Nicholas, the carpenter wakes up and think the flood has hit. He cuts the tubs with the ax and comes tumbling down on the road breaking his arm.
Townspeople gather hearing the fall and scream to hear the carpenter telling them the story of the flood. Alisoun and Nicholas declare John to have gone mad, making him the laughing stock for everyone. Miller, in the end, prays for the couple to be safe.