Summary and Analysis of The Reeve's Tale Essay

Summary and Analysis of The Reeve's Tale Essay

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Summary and Analysis of The Reeve's Tale

Prologue to the Reeve's Tale:

The reactions of the crowd to the Miller's Tale were mixed, although many laughed. Only Oswald, the elderly Reeve was offended. He claims that with age the qualities of boasting, lying, anger and covetousness fade away. He vows to repay the Miller's Tale.

Analysis

The prologue to the Reeve's Tale continues the pattern established with the prologue to the Miller's Tale. Just as the Miller told his tale as a reaction to the Knight's tale, the Reeve vows to tell a tale as a reaction to what the Miller has told, offended by his satiric description of aged carpenter in comparison to the younger characters of the Miller's Tale. He believes that the Miller's Tale was an attack on him, and will so tell a tale that is an attack on the Miller.

The Reeve's Tale:

At Trumpington, near Cambridge, there is a brook where nearby stands a mill. There is a miller who lived there once who wore ostentatious clothing and could play the bagpipe, wrestle and fish. He always had a knife with him, and had a round face and flattened nose. His name was Simon, and nicknamed Symkyn. His wife came from a noble family; her father was the parson. Symkyn was a jealous man and his wife pretentious. They had a daughter who was now twenty and a toddler. The miller was dishonest in his business dealings. He cheated the college worst of all, and stole meal and corn from the dying steward of Cambridge. Two students, John and Aleyn, received permission from the provost to see the corn ground at the mill. Aleyn tells Symkyn that he is there to ground the corn and bring it back, since the sick steward cannot. While they ground the corn, Symkyn found the students' horse and set it loo...


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...n this distinction is minor. Although they are students, they come from the more rustic northern area of England and show little of the savvy that Nicholas displayed in the previous tale. They are cheated out of their corn and lose their horse through the miller's deception. When they seduce the miller's wife and daughter, they do so merely out of opportunity and jealousy, and their actions seem to be little better than rape. The two students even lack that measure of lust that is present in the Miller's Tale and which might make the characters more sympathetic. In the end, most of the characters suffer some physical injury, but most of all the miller. For deceiving the students he found himself cuckolded, his daughter deflowered, and himself robbed and severely wounded. Even the means by which he is wounded is comic ­ his wife conks him on the head with his staff.

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