The Harley 2253 Manuscript

Amorous Language in Ichot aburde in a bour ase beryl so bryht and The Miller’s Tale College

In Ichot aburde in a bour ase beryl so bryht and The Miller’s Tale, both authors use figurative language to convey their belief that women serve to please and nurture men. As demonstrated by the jewels, birds, sweets, and medicine they’re extensively compared to, John and Absolon view the women they’re in love with, Annot and Alisoun, as playing only two roles: attractive entertainer and maternal healer.

Both John and Absolon emphasize the pleasing effect women have on their senses of sight, sound, taste, and smell, portraying them as objects of pride and pleasure for men. John compares Annot to several precious gemstones, saying, “Ichot a burde… / Ase saphyr in selver, semly on syht… / Ase onycle he ys, on yholden on hyht, / Ase diamaund the dere in day, when he is dyht. / He is coral ycud with cayser ant knyht” (1-2, 5-7). “Semly on syht” reveals John’s belief that like a precious jewel, a woman’s value lies in her appearance. John says that Annot is “yholden on hyht,” disclosing that Annot must please not only his eyes, but the eyes of other men, too, especially “cayser ant knyht.” In this way, John sees Annot as a trophy to be “dyht.” Like John, Absolon considers Alisoun eye candy: “Sensynge the wyves of the parisshe faste;...

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