Canterbury Tales Character Analysis Chaucer's greatest work came after everything else. Canterbury tales was the last of his literary works. It followed such stories as Troilus and Criseyde. It is considered as one of the greatest works of literature during the English Middle Age. The ironic thing is that it wasn't even finished the way Chaucer had intended it to. He had planned to have over a hundred tales, four for each pilgrim.
He ended up with twenty-four, less than one for each pilgrim. One wonders if he had finished how much better would it have been. The story is a unique one, especially during the time in which it was written. Rather than a traditional author story format, Chaucer uses a different method to spin a number of different types of stories. By telling different stories through different pilgrims Chaucer uses their attitudes and characteristics so that he may tell tales of many different varieties and styles. This shows the many different creative sides and motives of the great author.
He was not the first to use such a method, but he may be one of the most famous, earliest of its users. Among the number of characters and different storytellers you come across a character by the name of Robin. His standing among the company was the Miller, so that was what he would be more commonly known. Immediately following the Knight the Miller had a pretty tough act to follow. The Knight was obviously of high standing, and would previously tell a noble tale with a moralistic flavor to it. It would leave the crowd in state of appreciation for someone of his stature.
When his tale was done the people knew why it was that he was Knight. Although, when the Miller was done the people did also realize why he was the Miller. When the Knight's tale had finished the Miller decided it was his turn for the spotlight. Chaucer makes it quite easy to understand the contrast in the characters.
Especially making the claims one right after the other. The comparison is easily made. The drunken boisterous Miller pipes up claiming to have a tale that would contend with the Knight's for being noble and attractive. Sensing the drunkenness, the host speaks up telling the Miller to save his tale for another time knowing of what was to come. The loud and cocky Miller overpowers him. He states that his tale is one of infidelity between a carpenter and his wife.
The narrator even tries to apologize for the following drunken blabbering. The stage had pretty much been set. In short, the tale is of a carpenter and his wife. Being very busy with business the carpenter is not around much and eventually his wife would be seduced by a man of a lower social standing than her husband by the name of Nicholas. She also would be sought after by a guitar-playing luster, who for the times would have been more suitable for an adulterous escapade. His name was Absolom.
She would trick her husband into distraction so that she may sleep with Nicholas, all the while teasing and insulting Absolom with cruel and somewhat disgusting technique. In the end, each man had been punished, the carpenter was thought to be crazy by the townspeople and had been injured in a fall, Nicholas would be burned by Absolom, and Absolom himself would be humiliated for his troubles. The tale for the most part had left the people in a state of shock. They were aghast after hearing a story as good as the Knight's and then having to sit through the Miller's attempt at entertainment. There is a name for this type of childish grotesque tale however. It is called fabliau it is a familiar medieval literary that would concern the more vulgar classes during its display.
Since it had followed the Knight's tale and had made a mockery of it, the Miller had managed to bring down the tale and strip it of its pride and morale. After hearing the Knight's tale and seeing the people's reaction to it I think the Miller became a little jealous and decided that he should be in the spotlight rather than the much more mature Knight. He figured that he would tell a tale that would also get the people's attention and at the same time put down the Knight and I think tell him what he thought of him. What was humorous to the Miller was not to the crowd and apparently not to the reader's of the tale.
That would explain the sort of precautionary warning that Chaucer plants as the narrator. He would relish in his own tale and would enjoy it more than anyone who had heard it. That was plain to see. The Miller's character is rather easy to depict. Especially after the Knight's tale and the way he presented himself. The Miller was a drunken, self centered oaf that would rather draw attention to his sloppy self with an immature revolting satire, than let a good tale by a good storyteller to gain what he thought should have been his attention.
I enjoyed the way Chaucer used this character though. The whole time his reader's were thinking how disgusting and revolting the Miller was, meanwhile it was Chaucer's mind that was behind the scoundrel's all along. It gave him a chance to tell a tale that may have drawn him a bad review if told just as a plain tale by an author, the normal way.