The Canterbury Tales

what kind of tales do you think the miller and the reeve are likely to tell?


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From the beginning of its prologue, The Reeve’s Tale takes the idea of “quitting” and puts it center stage, changing altogether the dynamic of the first fragment. As the Knight’s Tale was “repaid” and “replayed” in the Miller’s Tale (both about two men in love with the same woman) on a different status level, and as the Miller parodied and highlighted the idealized nature of the Knight’s Tale by replacing its romance setting with gritty realism, so the Reeve’s Tale performs a similar treatment on the Miller’s.

It is clear from the moment that the angry Reeve quietly fumes among all the jollity after the Miller’s Tale that he is of rather a severe disposition, and there is nothing of the warmth and good humor of the Miller’s Tale: there is no sign of an elaborate, enjoyable fabliau trick like Nicholas’ elaborate (and, when you consider that John the Miller goes out to the country regularly anyway, rather unnecessary) plan.