Sex, Love, and Religion in The Miller's Tale, by Chaucer Essay

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What is Pornography? When asked some people might say, “I can not define it, but I know it when I see it.” The word “Pornography” comes from the Greek for writing about prostitutes. Many people concluded that the Miller’s tale was merely a pornographic story that surrounded four people. This also depended on one’s view of pornography. The Miller’s tale was told by the Miller who was not stable at the time. The Miller’s tale focused on two men, Nicholas and Absolon whose goal is to establish a relationship with Alisoun, the attractive adolescent wife of an older carpenter named John. Alisoun on one hand used old-fashioned romantic strategies such as dressing up in lavish clothes and singing. Nicholas on the other hand tricked John into believing that a Noah’s flood was coming, which forced him to spend the night in a tub on the roof while he gets his way with Alisoun. In the dark, Alisoun played a brutal trick on Absolon, who in return became enranged and burned Nicolas’ bottom. As a consequence, John crashed onto the floor and broke his arm. Many have argued the Miller’s tale is simply a pornographic story, but it is not the case. There were many themes that gave this story its meaning and purpose to the reader. These three themes include sex, love, and religion.
It is important to notice that Chaucer meant this story to be comical not serious nor moral. The first definition of porn from Merriam-Webster is the depiction of erotic behavior such as in pictures or writing intended to cause sexual arousal. In this story there were no pictures nor writing to cause sexual arousal. Yes, of course there were bits and pieces of sexual relations and activity, but not the point where it caused sexual arousal. The narrat...

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...mainly to be something characters use and abuse in order to get what they want. Absolon forgoes piety for attention when he takes a role in the local miracle play in hopes of attracting Alisoun. Nicholas uses the Biblical story of Noah and the flood, and a false piety, to set John up so he can frolic with Alisoun undisturbed. And then, of course, there's the whole obscene religious allegory and symbolism in the story: the huge "Goddes pryvetee," or genitals, John hangs from his roof; the fart of thunder and cry of water that could allegorize Noah's flood; and the way in which Nicholas's God-role and John's fall play on the Fall of Man. As is true with love, the only character who seems to truly have faith in this tale (John) suffers for it in the end, appearing highly ridiculous. All of this adds up to a highly irreligious take on religion in "The Miller's Tale."

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