The Canterbury Tales

Miller's Tale

Summary

The tale begins with a description of a carpenter, a scholarly clerk, and a young wife. The carpenter was a rich man by the name of John who occasionally housed guests. One such guest was a clerk by the name of Nicholas. Nicholas believed in astronomy, which is quite contradictory for a man of the church. Nicholas also happened to be "well skilled in secret love" and was also quite cunning. The young wife(Alison) was extremely beautiful but quite adulterous. But the carpenter was in love with her despite the age difference and was extremely protective. Almost immediately, Nicholas wooed the young wife and they started a growing affair. At one point the young wife tried to break off the affair but Nicholas talked her into staying with him, he even said that he could "beguile the carpenter." Later on the young wife went to the church and met another clerk, his name was Absolom. Absolom was known for his singing and dancing and immediately fell in love with the young wife. Absolom would go every night and sing to the young wife outside her window, he even gave her gifts. Next in the story, Nicholas and the young wife hatch a plan so they can go off together. The first part of this plan was that Nicholas would act like he was going crazy and the carpenter would come to his aid. He would "confess" a secret that he heard a flood was coming, much like noah's flood. In order to save his wife and himself and Nicholas, the carpenter would need to obtain three tubs, and put them high in the ceiling so they would not drown. The carpenter, John, fell for the ruse and went high into the ceiling one night it started raining. Meanwhile Nicholas and the young wife Alison stayed "in bed". On that same night, Absolom went to woo the young wife and was turned down, she finally told him she would kiss him and be done. She said that she would meet him at the window but instead of kissing him, she stuck out her butt which Absolom unknowingly kissed. Absolom was abhorred and immediately went about to exact his revenge. He came back with a branding iron and asked for another kiss, this time Nicholas unknowingly stuck out his butt which was then branded. He immediately began screaming which awoke the carpenter who cut himself out of the ceiling. In the end, the people called the carpenter crazy, he lost his wife to Nicholas, and Nicholas ended up with a sore butt.