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Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade September 2001

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Knight "“ Miller The Miller's Tale and the Knight's Tale both reveal timeless messages about society and people in general, such as: love, fabliau, and women's role in society. Both stories are appropriate to its own character. The contrast between the noble knight and the burly Miller is made more prominent by the type of story each chose to relate.

The Knight's Tale primarily deals with the love of Arcite and Palamon for Emelye. Arcite notes that there's a difference in each one's love: Palamon loves her in a "holinesse," not even knowing whether she's a woman; while Arcite loves her as a fellow "creature" (lines 300-301), that is, as a woman. It may be that Arcite is right, but he uses the argument to prove that "all's fair in love," which justifies breaking his vow. This story is related with an amazing wealth of detailed descriptions and realism of expression.

There is no offensiveness or rudeness in the story in keeping with the Knight's character. The love of the two young men is noble and ideal. The young men share romanticized love for the uninterested Emelye. The only possible end of this love can be in marriage. There is no desire for a dishonest relationship. The contrast between this and the subsequent Miller's Tale deals with two men after the same woman, and both concern the issues of love and what is beyond man's control, though on very different levels. In the Knight's Tale, love exists on a high, platonic plane; in the Miller's Tale, love subsists on a physical stage. In the Miller's Tale, Alison is pursued by Nicholas and Absalon as an object of cuckoldry. Chivalric love is made a joke of by the Miller. The love in this tale is sexual, existing not on a platonic level as in the Knight's Tale.

The Miller's Tale also fits into a specific genre"”it is a fabliau (the name and the genre are French in origin). A fabliau is usually a vulgar, comic tale, which builds up action to an outrageous climax, usually hinging on some joke. We can see that, like the Knight's Tale, the Miller's Tale is fitting to his own character. It is rightly begun"”the drunken, red-bearded, brawny Miller interrupts after the Knight's sophisticated tale of love and chivalry and starts on a rude tale full of humor and corruptness. Once the story gets going, the intensification is carefully staged, and the climax grasps the reader by surprise"”the tale seems to be finished when Alison fools Absolon into kissing her "nether eye"(3852), but in the last hundred lines Absolon manages to shake up everything.

Both the Knight's and Miller's Tales are involved with a three-way love triangle. In both tales, the woman remains the more-or-less passive bystander, while the men struggle for her. In the Knight's Tale, women are highly praised, even to the point that they are compared to Goddesses. Women have a high rank in society in the Knight's Tale. No adultery is involved with Emelye. Women are also protected by their husbands are fought for constantly. In contrast, the Miller's Tale takes a different outlook on women. They are viewed as physical objects, often compared to animals. They are prizes to men, won by the highest rank in society.

By describing these three terms, allows the reader to establish a clear relationship or distinction with the Knight's Tale and the Miller's Tale. Like the Knight's Tale, the Miller's Tale is appropriate to his own character.