The link between the Miller and the tale he tells is quite a close one; the tale is really a reflection of the character that relates it. We will attempt to prove it by examining the storie’s genre, the way in which it is narrated, and its intended meaning. The Miller’s tale is a fabliau, a genre best defined as “a dirty story told with wit and point”; the tale itself is one of “old age, youth, carpentry and cuckoldry. “. A character telling such a story can immediately be classified as a member of a low social class and gifted with a vulgar sense of humour, but not deprived of cleverness.
This description matches the Miller quite well, as can be gathered from the tale’s last few lines: “Thus swyved was the carpenter’s wyfe ( ) And Absolon hath kist hir nethe ye And Nicholas is scalded in the toute This tale is doon, and God save al the route! ” The narration of the Miller’s tale is characterised by an abundance of dialogue and colloquial expressions. This aspect can be seen in passages such as the following; ( ) Who is there that knokketh so? I warante it a theef. Why, nay, quod he, God Woot, my sweete leef, I am thyn Absolon “And out his ers he putteth prively” This Nicholas anon leet flee a fart” A person who speaks in such a way, must, delicately speaking, be more than willing to sacrifice decorum for the sake of amusement an other trait of the Miller’s personality mirrored in his story.
Last, but certainly not least, come the plot of the story and the message it carries. The Miller’s main aim is clearly to entertain he is drunk, and wants both to have fun and to prove his worth in the eyes of his fellow travelers. His story of lust and cunning shows what he considers the funniest and most appealing topics.
It has no moral the fragment closest to an edifying conclusion is that “Men sholde wedde after his estaat For youthe and elde is often at debaat” But even this can be interpreted in different ways for instance, as an invitation for young wives to be unfaithful. What’s more, the fact that the most pitiful and laughable character in the tale is a carpenter hints at it being an attack against the Reeve, a carpenter himself. It is true that he had earned the Miller’s dislike when he attempted to silence him (the squabble is pictured in the Miller’s Prologue); this shows the Miller’s malice and lack of forgiveness.
All in all, the tale follows the tracks laid by the Miller’s description in the General Prologue: “He was a janglere, and a goliardeys, And that was most of sinne and harlotries. Well coude he stelen corn ” Thus, the final remark to be made is that the relation between the teller and the tale is, in the Miller’s case, similar to the one between a person and a very good mirror: not only does it reflect all of the person’s features, it also makes it possible to notice finer details.