MIllers tale

Courtly Love in Chaucer and Marie de France In his The Miller’s Tale Chaucer presents a side of the courtly love tradition never seen before. His characters are average middle class workers rather than elite nobility. There is an interesting comparison between the Miller’s characters and those in two of Marie de France’s lais that share very close plot lines. Instead of being idealized Chaucer’s characters are gritty. Instead of being involved in “courtly love” there is some evidence that the relationship between Alison and Nicholas is one of lust. Chaucer’s use of the lower class makes the absurdity of what they are doing stand out. In the lais of Marie de France, Guigemare and Yonec, are built on the same archetype which is the same as Chaucer’s Miller’s tale uses. Marie’s lais can give provide a set of “ground rules” for this archetype. The two lais share several similar elements. They both contain the same three central characters, who possesses fundamental similarities, the same beginning plot line and several of the same themes. Thefirst character shared by the two lais is the story’s villain, the aged husband. He is a powerful lord who is much older than his wife. Because he is conscious of this fact, he worries constantly that his wife will betray him, so he locks her up. He is both the least and most important figure in the story. He’s important because without his presence and actions the story could never take place. But he has very little actual interaction with the other two more central characters. The husband in Yonec is never described as meeting either his wife or her lover. In Guigemare the husband, wife and Guigemare are only together when the two lovers are discovered. The figure of the beautiful, imprisoned wife is the second central character. She is the quintessential damsel in distress, beautiful, noble (and with the exception of her one true love) chaste. The third character is the valiant lover who rescues t…


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