The Canterbury Tales

Characters

The Miller

Characters The Miller

Chaucer defines the Miller primarily through his physical strength and size, which mirrors the way he muscles his way into conversations and drunkenly intimidates the other pilgrims. Chaucer notes that the Miller’s strength is enough that he can tear a door off its hinges but never says why he wreaks such destruction, implying that the Miller is prone to senseless aggression. The Miller is also a cheat, taking more money for the grain he grinds than is fair. More brawn than brain, the Miller is unable to control his temper or interact politely with people. His personality is reflected both in the manner in which he tells his tale and in the tale itself. Drunk early in the morning, the Miller insists on telling his story out of turn, then tells a story about people as deceptive and violent as himself. In “The Miller’s Tale,” Alisoun tricks her husband, John, into sleeping on the roof so that she can cheat on him with her lover Nicholas. She tricks Absolon into kissing her rear, and Absolon jabs a hot, sharp poker into Nicholas’s bottom. While the Miller makes his story funny and even elegant, the narrative underscores his aggressive, deceitful nature, and ultimately reveals Chaucer’s beliefs about the rowdy, bawdy nature of people in the Miller’s social class.