A Tale of 'synne and harlotries'? The Miller's Tale as Social Ideology
The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
This article provides a detailed discussion of how romance tropes are parodied in the Miller’s Tale in order to pose a social challenge to the Knight’s Tale and in order to reject the vertical view of social relations which romance tales traditionally uphold. Through a comprehensive investigation of this issue, the article illustrates Paul Strohm’s argument that the clash between the romance genre of the Knight’s Tale and the fabliau genre of the Miller’s Tale symbolically reflects the tension between two different ideologies simultaneously present within Chaucer’s society. The Miller’s fabliau tale is shown to express a mercantile outlook of calculation in one’s own interest that was becoming more prominent in the increasingly commercial world of late fourteenth-century England, as opposed to the feudal view of social relations which is found in the Knight’s Tale.
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