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Canterbury Tales, The Miller’s Tale - Geoffrey Chaucer, 14th century

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  1. John
  2. Alison
  3. Nicholas
  4. Absolom

People who are gullible are often taken advantage of by the people whom they respect. When a person admires somebody, it is very likely that he or she can be easily misled into doing something that they would otherwise never do. In Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale", we are introduced to an extremely funny story in which Nicholas, an admirable scholar, tricks John the Carpenter in order to sleep with his wife. Through the twists and turns of the story, we begin to understand each character and their motives for behaving the way that they do. Given the society in which they live, it is very plausible that each character in the story, John, Alison, Nicholas, and Absolom, would behave in exactly the way the story tells it.

[...] Deception and Gullibility and Chaucer's The Miller's Tale People who are gullible are often taken advantage of by the people whom they respect. When a person admires somebody, it is very likely that he or she can be easily misled into doing something that they would otherwise never do. In Chaucer's Miller's we are introduced to an extremely funny story in which Nicholas, an admirable scholar, tricks John the Carpenter in order to sleep with his wife. Through the twists and turns of the story, we begin to understand each character and their motives for behaving the way that they do. [...]


[...] Absolom, for example, came at night to Alison's house while John was there and sang ?Dear lady, by your will, be kind to me/And strummed on his guitar in harmony.? Absolom was very careless and did not even bother to consider John, who was with Alison at the time and said to her: Alison, don't you hear/Absolom singing under our bedroom (Chaucer 165-169). Nicholas would never be so open about his intentions, and this was one of the reasons why he was able to successfully seduce Alison and get John out of the way. Absolom is a man who does not consider consequences and does things that feel right. After Alison tricked him into kissing her butt, Absolom's love turned to anger and hatred. He took a hot farmers tool and returned to Alison's house, asking for another kiss. [...]


[...] While John was hiding in a boat the same way that Noah did and waited for a flood, Alison and Nicholas ran off to his bed. Nicholas uses psychology and flattering to convince John to build the arc and remain in it. He knows that John respects him and will respond, and he tells him very ironically, proverb says, ?Don't waste words on the wise./You are so wise there is no need to teach you./Go, save our lives?that's all that I beseech you (Chaucer 388-390). John follows his words and carries out the plan exactly as Nicholas had asked. [...]

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