The Canterbury Tales

The Genre of the Reeve and the Miller

The Miller and Reeve's Tales of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, while being intricately crafted examples of the French genre fabliaux, differ significantly in both progression, resolution, as well as the tales' overall connotation and voice. While the Miller's tale seems to follow the more traditional, "good humored" nature of the fabliaux, the Reeve creates a raunchy tale with a darker, more sardonic twist at the end. The source of this difference can be found not only in the character differences of the narrators but also in the chronological placement of the tales in Chaucer's text. Not only does the Reeve's tale reflect the tale of the Miller, it houses dark humor aimed specifically towards the Miller himself.

The Miller's tale begins, as a reader would expect, like a good, raunchy story would. The Host immediately notices, "that he [the Miller] was dronke of ale" (line 3128, Miller's Prologue) and while the Host attempts to find another storyteller, the jocular Miller insists on telling a story. Already the warning flags go up on the Miller's Tale. What kind of story can the listener expect from a drunk commoner? Like the Miller is described, the story is disruptive and...

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