The Miller and the Reeve, by Chaucer

Essay by stopthatB, November 1996

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'The Miller's Tale' and 'The Reve's Tale' from The Canterbury Tales are very closely related. They both deal with the relationship between a jealous man, his wife, and a young scholar(s), and they both are immoral stories that contain sex and violence. This proves that the Miller and the Reeve are two very corrupt individuals. However, these tales also share some differences. For instance, the main character in 'The Reeve's Tale' is a Miller, while the main character in 'The Miller's Tale' is a carpenter (which was the Reeve's profession), and both tales are different in the way the Miller and the Reeve are portrayed. Again the differences reflect the dishonesty of the tale's author.

The two tales share the relationship between a jealous man, his wife, and a young scholar. In 'The Miller's Tale' the scholar Nicholas is a 'close and shy' (89) person who has a talent for 'making love in secret' (89).

His talent is illustrated when he turns his eye to the Carpenter's wife and makes love with her. The situation is very similar to 'The Reeve's Tale.' In that tale the Miller lets John and Alan, two scholars, who lost their horse from the Miller's own doing, stay at his house. However, since the two boys are 'Headstrong...and eager for a joke' (110), Alan proceeds to rape the Miller's daughter, while John sleeps with the Miller's wife. It is apparent that these situations are very similar, in that the scholars are having adulterous sexual intercourse with both the Carpenter's and the Miller's wives. This similarity shows how the Miller and the Reeve are preoccupied with sex and adultery which is a sign of their dishonesty.

The two tales also share common traits in the fields of immorality and sexuality. For instance,