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Use of Humour in 'The Miller's Tale' - Chaucer

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Shannon Clemow

on 9 October 2012

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Transcript of Use of Humour in 'The Miller's Tale' - Chaucer

Shannon and Poppy Use of Humour in the Tale sat-ire [sat-ahyr]
1. A literary composition
in which human folly
are attacked through irony,
wit and/or derision Satire Satire directed
against John There are many different examples of satire directed against John in the Tale. For example, the account of his deception by Nicholas. John is unaware he is being made a fool of and is presenting himself to be knowledgeable and superior when in reality he is at the butt of jokes. The Absurd Absurd humour features largely in the Tale. For example, the preposterous prediction Nicholas made and John's preparations for surviving the flood. On their own, such actions would be highly comic. Actions such as hanging tubs from the rafters, filling them with provisions and lying in them would be highly comic on their own but they are made more so by our knowledge of the ulterior purpose these actions serve. John's ignorance of the philosopher Cato, and his teachings that people should marry within their age range, suggests that John's foolishness is the reason why his wife is unfaithful. John's foolishness in marrying a girl much younger is made a mockery of and this is increased by the irony of his jealously and protectiveness being the very thing that causes her to cheat. John's fear for his wife when he thinks that she's going to drown can also be ironic humour because his wife is the one conspiring against him The character of John is also humourous and ridiculous, such as when he performs the 'night-spel' and other things to ward off evil spirits. Also, Nicholas and Alison's behaviour is equally ridiculous. They both indulge John and say 'clom' - 'silence' - before lying down in the tub. Satire directed
against Absolon Satire is more developed in the description of Absolon. We see that the apparent approval of Absolon is ironically meant because that the total picture is too ridiculous to be taken seriously and, if that is not enough, it is more than obvious through the Miller's patronising identification of Absolon as a 'mirie child'. Satire is also obvious when Absolon describes his shoes fashionable and embellished with 'Poules window' - the windows of a Cathedral.
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