Miller’s tale by Geoffrey Chaucer is literature for an audience who yearns to have a moment of laughter while reading. A funny picture of love is being brought into the audience’s mind with the use of romantic phrases and hyperboles. The tale comprises romantic settings in which Nicholas and Absalon act out of emotions towards Alison in response to her beauty. This paper argues that today’s literature still has some humor, with a focus on The Miller’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer. Miller’s tale is full of humor, which is focused on the unreasonable decisions and behaviors displayed in the love triangle between Nicholas and Absalon and John’s wife, Alison.
It is humorous how young men get emotionally inclined in romantic scenes, even to the extent of losing resources. Miller describes the outstanding beauty of Alison with captivating phrases like, “She was a daisy, O a lollypop for any nobleman to take to bed” (Alexander and Chaucer 35). Nicholas immediately comes into the scene with hyped emotions that asserts Miller’s words. Being a young woman with her husband away, she gives into lucrative suggestions of Nicholas. Grabbing at his hand, she yields herself to his cry, “O love-me-all-at-once or I shall die!” (Alexander and Chaucer 38). The age scenario is opposed to the present lifestyle where age difference is a positive factor in marriage, as women need older men in age and men also like younger women. It is funny how young people with understanding like Nicholas and Alison get their ways outside marriage and struggle to hide, to the extent of reserving large quantities of food in searching for opportunities to make love.
The desire of Absalon to make love with Alison is comical. Absalon is considerate in his understanding of the type of woman to consider for love. Despite being young and married at the same time, Absalon unconsciously spends sleepless nights in pursuit of Alison (Alexander and Chaucer 52). Surprisingly, he steps into John’s compound with his guitar to gaze through the window for John’s wife. Funnily, he utters, “Now dearest lady, if thy pleasure is in thoughts of love, think tenderly of me!” (Alexander and Chaucer 56). The sound is heard by John, who draws Alison’s attention to what Absalon is singing in his compound at night. The craziness of romantic obsession is displayed in Absalon, becoming senseless to realize that his nose would make him vulnerable to John.
To better understand literary works, one can compare the intentions of different authors. Although The Miller’s Tale is humorous, one can argue that Chaucer’s intent is based on the use of comedy to criticize lustful love. Similarly, in her poem Bitch, Carolyn Kizer uses satire to compare the narrator to a dog, recalling a past relationship with a man and giving the dog orders to behave (Abcarian 1890-1891). However, those orders are addressed to the narrator, as she perceives herself as a “bitch,” longing to reconnect with a married man, which she understands to be wrong (Abcarian 1890-1891). Furthermore, as Chaucer uses humor to describe young people’s eagerness for each other, one can see comedy in Herrick’s To the Virgins. Herrick uses comedic comparisons suggesting that women marry young to enjoy love “while ye may,” similarly to how Chaucer describes Alison’s experiences with her young lover (Abcarian 1874). While the three authors intended to represent love and longing for another person, Chaucer’s humor is obvious in rhyme, whereas Herrick and Kizer hide comedy in comparisons.
In Miller’s tale, humor is displayed in the event of love controversies among the characters. Alison truly knows that John loves her and if she makes the mistake of exposing the affair with Nicholas, she will be in a mess due to the husband’s jealousy. Nicholas lays a trick with the flood for him to have a chance of sleeping with Alison at the moment Absalon also tries hard until he gets a kiss from her. However, it is evident that obsession with love affairs makes people unrealistic, which is dangerous to personal life and economic development.
Abcarian, Richard, et al. Literature: The Human Experience, Shorter Edition: Reading and Writing. Bedford Books, 2017.
Alexander, Michael, and Chaucer, Geoffrey. Chaucer: The Millers Tale. Macmillan Education UK, 1986.