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The Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer
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In "The Wife of Bath's Tale" and "The Miller's Tale," what do these stories tell us about the narrators' educations, social standings, and world-views? Are these stories similar to other frame narratives, such as The Decameron, The Heptameron, or The Thousand and One Nights?

Both "The Miller's Tale" and "The Wife of Bath's Tale" reflect the educations, social standings, and worldviews of their narrators in the content and themes of each story. The two tales are evocative of certain elements of another famous individual frame narrative collection, One Thousand and One Nights.

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Both "The Miller's Tale" and "The Wife of Bath's Tale" reflect the educations, social standings, and worldviews of their narrators in the content and themes of each story.

"The Miller's Tale" is a sex farce complete with crude characters, fart jokes, and a slapstick ending. Considering the Miller's antagonistic, rude characterization, it makes sense that he would appreciate such wild and often mean-spirited comedy. Unlike the Knight, whose more traditional romance preceded "The Miller's Tale," the Miller does not believe in chivalry. In his world, everyone acts in their own self-interest.

"The Wife of Bath's Tale" reflects her higher class through its genre as well: Arthurian romance. An original Arthurian romance is generally considered more sophisticated than a sex romp like "The Miller's Tale," since the teller would require knowledge of the Arthurian lore. Of course, the Wife alters the lore a bit, giving the Arthurian characters her own spin. For example, Guinevere now has her own legal court of women who try the knight, since his crime—the rape of a maiden—is one especially heinous to the female sex. This reflects the Wife's belief that women deserve more power, especially within a marriage.

As for similar frame narratives from other stories in the vein of The Canterbury Tales, One Thousand and One Nights features stories with similar themes to both tales. For example, the ribald sexual comedy of "The Miller's Tale" is similar to that of "Ali with the Large Member" in One Thousand and One Nights. Also the frame story of One Thousand and One Nights, in which Scheherazade postpones her execution through her cleverness and storytelling skill, is similar to the clever, active women in "The Wife of Bath's Tale."

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