illustration of a clergyman with Canterbury cathedral behind him

The Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer

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4: The Reeve's Tale Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. How does the miller, Simkin, parallel the Miller on the pilgrimage?

2. How is Simkin paid back by the clerics for his cheating?

3. What features of human nature are exaggerated in this tale?

4. What elements of the fabliau are present in The Reeve's Tale?

5. How does the Reeve pay the Miller back with this story?

6. What was the reaction of the other pilgrims to the tale told by the Miller?

7. Why was The Miller's Tale so offensive to the Reeve?

8. What qualities does the Reeve say characterize old men?

9. How does the infant in the cradle function in this story?

10. What "advantages" does Simkin's daughter have that make her a desirable bride?

1. The pilgrim Miller is loud and boastful; he is also dishonest. Simkin has the same characteristics.

2. One of them has sex with his wife while the other sleeps with his virgin daughter.

3. Sexual appetite, greed, and cunning are exaggerated in this tale.

4. The fabliau is represented by the following elements: sexual scenario; trickery; common people; and humor.

5. He makes the miller in the story out to be a fool who is completely tricked by two young men.

6. They all find it very funny.

7. The main character in the Miller's story was an aging carpenter who is made out to be a fool. The Reeve himself is aging and was formerly a carpenter. He takes the story as a personal insult, which is exactly how it was intended.

8. The Reeve says old men are characterized by boasting, anger, lying, and covetousness.

9. The infant in the cradle is used to confuse Simkin's wife and ultimately confuses one of the young men, as well.

10. The mother of the girl has a little bit of family background; the girl has a tiny bit of education; the father of the girl is wealthy; and she is a virgin.

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3: The Miller's Tale Questions and Answers


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