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Suggest two of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales that discuss how the principle of...

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ilovecats2 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 11, 2011 at 10:58 PM via web

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Suggest two of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales that discuss how the principle of "quiting" works to create dialogue between the tales.

Please only select from following : General Prologue, "The Knight's Tale," "The Miller's Tale," "The Reeve's Tale," "The Wife of Bath's Tale, "The Clerk's Tale," and "The Merchant's Tale." Note that "quiting" means to answer, repay, or requite.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 12, 2011 at 8:43 AM (Answer #1)

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The sense of "quiting" or "repaying" is seen in two ways in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, especially with "The Miller's Tale" and "The Reeve's Tale."

In "The Miller's Tale," the carpenter (reeve) has been duped by his wife and her lover. They trick him into thinking a flood is coming and he hangs a boat in the attic. Hearing "Water!", he cuts the ropes of the boat he is sleeping in, and the boat falls through the floor into the living-room—hearing the noise, the neighbors arrive. The reeve tries to explain the situation, but no one believes him.

And like one mad he started in to cry,

The people laughed at all this fantasy;

Up to the roof they looked, and there did gape,

And so turned all his injury to a jape.

For when this carpenter got in a word,

’Twas all in vain, no man his reasons heard;

With oaths impressive he was so sworn down

That he was held for mad by all the town; (653-660)

When Nicholas and Alisoun (the reeve's wife) trick Abaslom (the church clerk), he promises to pay them back:

This hapless Absalom, he heard that yell,

And on his lip, for anger, he did bite;

And to himself he said, “I will requite!”

At the appropriate moment, Nicholas puts his butt out the window toward Absalom a second time, Nicholas is branded on his bottom by the aggrieved clerk.

But he was ready with his iron hot

And Nicholas right in the arse he got.

Off went the skin and hand’s-breath broad, about,

The coulter burned his bottom so, throughout,

That for the pain he thought that he should die. (623-627)

So the miller has drunkenly told his tale to the pilgrims at the expense of the reeve's (carpenter's) feelings. Everyone listening heartily laughs. So disgruntled, the "reeve" now tells his tale—it is about a miller who is a sly and cheating businessman.

Cantankerous, and filled with ire and hate… (82)

From day one he has been a thief of grain;

His clients pay for his ill-gotten gain.

Simkin the haughty was this miller’s name.

(85-87)

Simpkin decides to cheat the Church's college, called Soler Hall, more than usual when the "manciple" becomes sick. Two impoverished students (Alain and John) beg the president of the college let them spy on the miller and see if they can catch him cheating. However, Simkin beats them at this game. So they decide to repay the miller. They ask to spend the night at Simkin's home—paying rent—and it is agreed.

The miller, his wife and daughter soon become drunk. Alaine and John cannot sleep for all the noise the family makes with snoring, etc., as they are all in the same loft. Alain decides to make the miller pay for his trickery by sleeping with his daughter. He says…

...before this night is through,

That ugly wench there, I intend to screw…

He who no monetary loss recovers,

Gets payback in the currency of lovers.

Simkin and his wife sleep with their youngest's cradle at their bed. When the wife gets up in the night, John moves the cradle to his bed. The wife returns in the dark to find the bed with the cradle—thinking it "her" bed.

“To think,” she said, “That I almost mistook

The bed the clerks are sleeping in for mine.

Boy! Wouldn’t that have been way out of line!”

It being dark, into [John's] trap she falls,

As in the covers with the clerk she crawls.

And so, the students get even with the miller.

In the stories, characters are repaid. In the telling of the stories by the pilgrims, the reeve repays the miller for embarrassing him with the miller's story of the foolish carpenter.

 

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