Everyone laughs at the Miller’s Tale except Oswald the Reeve, a carpenter by craft, who takes the story personally. The Reeve retorts that if he wanted to, he could tell a dirty story about millers, but that since he is an old man, there isn’t much point.
The Reeve, a carpenter, takes the Miller’s Tale not as a parody of the Knight’s Tale but as a personal insult against all carpenters.
The Host makes fun of the Reeve for giving the company a sermon of self-pity. The Reeve changes his mind and decides to tell a dirty story about millers in retaliation.
The Reeve’s Tale follows the “quiting” structure that the Miller started, where a teller responds directly to the tale last told.