The Miller's Prologue and Tale, Chaucer. Is the Miller's Prologue and Tale, primarily a 'comic tale', or a 'serious tale'? Discuss.

Essay by mydeadlydesire February 2004

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The Miller's Prologue and Tale, although very entertaining and comic, is primarily a serious tale. A close look shows serious underlying themes presented to an audience using humour, rather than comedy and entertainment being its focal objective. Through the medium of the churlish Miller - conventional literature and views are challenged and satirised by his tale. Rather than unrealistic ideals, the Miller tells a tale that reveals the truth about human nature and its faults, for which the characters are punished. It would be unjust to deem this tale as merely comic, but rather a hilariously truthful tale that is ultimately thought-provoking in its message.

The comical aspects of The Miller's Tale cannot be ignored with ease. The parody of the Knights Tale and other similar literature during Chaucer's time, and the satire of Chaucer's characters provide much laughter to any audience. Critics have argued that it is wrong to look any deeper into the tale than it's comical veneer, preferring the interpretation of The Miller's Tale being just a tale to 'laugh heartily' at.

Although there is a great deal of evidence showing the tales comical value, there is also much to show there is a lot more to the tale than just that. John's character could be perceived as evidence to support the tale being primarily for comedic purposes. John, a rather ignorant, gullible carpenter, duped into being made a cuckhold by a student, does appear on face value to be much of a stock character. His main role in the tale being to ridicule and make fun of. However, Chaucer does give John a personal touch by allowing the audience to have some, if little, sympathy with him when it is revealed he truly loves Alison. She is the only thing he is concerned about when...