The Canterbury Tales

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The Canterbury Tales The Miller’s Prologue Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
All the pilgrims agree that the Knight has told an excellent, noble story. The Host turns to the Monk for the next tale, but the Miller, who is drunk, interrupts and declares that he will “quite” the Knight’s tale.
The Miller’s interruption of the Host’s order establishes the “quiting” principle of the Tales: pilgrims respond directly to the previous tale told rather than waiting their turn.
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The Miller says that he will tell a legend about a cuckolded carpenter and his wife. The Reeve, himself a carpenter, angrily protests, but the Miller says that the Reeve should not take the tale so personally––unless, of course, the Reeve has reason to do so. Indeed, says the Miller, he himself has a wife, but he doesn’t ask her too many questions.
The Miller presents his tale as though he will be describing the life of a saint, but the story he tells is bawdy and full of raunchy jokes. The Reeve thinks that the Miller is directly insulting him because the tale is all about carpenters.
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The narrator apologizes for the bawdy, raunchy nature of the Miller’s tale and tells the reader that if he does not want to hear it, he can turn over the page and read the next story.
The description of the tales being on pages that the reader can flip through demonstrates that Chaucer was very aware of the literary, written nature of his stories.
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