One of the issues under examination in The Canterbury Tales is the nature of courtly love. what do the canterbury tales have to say about it.In particular, consider the Miller's's Tale and Wife of...

One of the issues under examination in The Canterbury Tales is the nature of courtly love. what do the canterbury tales have to say about it.

In particular, consider the Miller's's Tale and Wife of Bath's Tale.

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Courtly love is a medieval concept connected to the ideas of chivalry in which a knight or courtier pledged loyalty and dedicated his deeds to a woman whom he admired, but who was not his wife or lover.  It involves a type of disciplined flirtation and intrigue.  The two tales you mentioned, the Miller's Tale and the Wife of Bath's Tale, satirize courtly love.  In the Miller's Tale, Alison and Nicholas trick the carpenter into thinking the world is going to end so that he will seclude himself in a barrel hanging from the roof.  Alison and Nicholas sneak to have a bawdy romp in the sack, if you get my drift.  There is nothing romantic here, nothing disciplined, certainly not courtly love.    It is coarse and base. 

The other character to be considered is Absalon.  He comes closer to the idea of a courtly lover in that he tries to woo Allison with his songs.  However, he is made a fool, when he begs for a kiss and gets instead of lips, the other end of Allison.  This part of the tale is also quite funny, but hardly noble, romantic, or idealized. 

Chaucer's characters have a gritty realism that sets this work apart from the romances of the time period.  Instead of  innocent flirtation, we get bawdy scenes, deceptive women, foolish old men, and lusty young men. 

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The Canterbury Tales

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