Sexual And Bodily Subjects Essay, Research Paper
“The Miller’s Tale,” a short story by Geoffrey Chaucer, deals frankly with sexual and bodily subjects. Chaucer is never obscene, he allows the reader to use his imagination to determine what some of the events actually mean. the tale is a “fabliau,” which is a short story in verse that deals satiracally and humorously about sexual or monetary deception.
When Chaucer describes the characters, he creates a unique theme for each person that helps the reader determine their role in the story. For example, he describes Alisoun as being a young, playful, and attractive girl that enjoys showing off what she has.
“And by hir girdle heenu a purs of lether
Tasseled with silk and perled with latoun.”
These two lines let us know something about her sexual side. The purse is a symbol of a woman’s anatomy. Alisoun’s purse is covered in silk and other trinkets which leads the reader to believe that she wants attention and would be willing if the right man came around. Another passage describes an interaction between Nicholas and Alisoun.
“Fil with this yonge wif to rage and playe,
Whil that hir housbonde was at Oseneye
(As clerkes been ful subtil and ful quainte),
And prively he caughte hire by the queinte,”
So, Nicholas just walks up and catches Alisoun by her queinte, which is where we get the word “cunt” from. If that happened now, he would be thrown in jail for sexual assault, but Chacuer writes it so nicely that we don’t see the action for what it really is. The reader can see that Nicholas is a very direct person and is not worried about the courtly love ideal that most men of that time period follow.
“And with hir heed she wried faste away;
She saide, “I wol nat kisse thee by my fay.
Why, lat be,” quod she, “lat be, Nicholas!
Or I wol crye ‘Out, harrow, and allas!’
Do way youre handes, for your curteisye!”"
Thiis is a funny passage becuase Alisoun says that if you don’t let go of me, I will scream for help. If she didn’t want Nicholas touching her in the first place, she would’ve yelled the moment he put his hands on her. She also says that by her faith, she will not kiss him, but it can be seen that her faith isn’t that strong if she is allowing him to hold her by her “queinte” and “haunche-bones.”
“And thus lith Alison and Nicholas
In bisinese of mirthe and of solas,
Til that the belle of Laudes gan to ringe,
And freres in the chauncel gonne singe.”
This passage reminds the reader of a love scene from a movie. The two lovers are enjoying their business of pleasure, then the cameras pan up and away from them to the sky and we hear music or fireworks to symbolize the act that is taking place. Here, Chaucer replaces the fireworks with the sounds of a church bell. It seems that the singing friars are celebrating for Alisoun and Nicholas. This is very funny and ironic that the church people are singing for the sinful act that is being commited.
The previous passages show how Chaucer is able to successfully discuss sexual and serious acts in a cool, unobscene manner. There are many parts of “The Miller’s Tale” that one has to be told about becuase they are very subtle, even though they have a strong meaning once you are explained what is going on.