Canterbury Tales tells many stories from medieval literature and provides a great variety of comic tales. Geoffrey Chaucer injects many tales of humor into the novel. Chaucer provides the reader with many light-hearted tales as a form of comic relief between many serious tales. The author interpolates humor into many tales, provides comic relief, and shows the reader a different type of humorous genre. Geoffrey Chaucer provides humor in many of the tales from Canterbury Tales. The Millers Tale is one such tale.
In the Millers Tale, a carpenter marries an eighteen-year-old girl named Alison. The carpenter also houses a cleric named Nicholas. The clever Nicholas tries to take advantage of the carpenters young wife while he goes away. Alison begins to like Nicholas and tells him that if he can trick her husband, then she will make love to him. Another man, Absalom attempts to capture Alisons love, but “Alison loved clever Nicholas so much that Absalom could go blow his horn elsewhere. “(Canterbury Tales 65). Nicholas comes up with a plan to trick the carpenter.
He tells the husband that he knows another great flood will come and that he, the carpenter, and Alison will be safe if the carpenter builds three separate barrels and hangs them from the ceiling where they can climb to safety. On that night, all three climb into the barrels and the carpenter immediately falls asleep, due to the exhaustion from all of his work. Alison and Nicholas climb down and go into the carpenters bed. Absalom appears at the window at midnight. Absalom demands a kiss from Alison, and Alison says she will kiss him if he leaves immediately.
Then,”she thrust her ass out the window. Absalom, knowing no better kissed it enthusiastically before realizing the trick. “(Canterbury Tales 71). Absalom then goes back into the town and gets a hot colter and returns to the house, and again he demands a kiss from Alison. This time, Nicholas decides to play the joke. “Nicholas quickly raised the window and thrust his ass far outNicholas let fly a fart with a noise as great as a clap of thunder, so that Absalom was almost overcome by the force of it. But he was ready with his hot iron and he smote Nicholas in the middle of his ass. Canterbury Tales 73).
Nicholas immediately yells for water, and, hearing somebody yell for water, the carpenter wakes up, cuts the ropes thinking the flood has come, and crashes to the floor. The Millers Tale represents a perfect example of Chaucers humor. The author injects many humorous events into the plot and ties all of the events together at the end. The last part of the story provides humor as each event leads to another equally humorous and ironic event, and the story ends with the ignorant husband being taken advantage of.
Such ironic situations add to the humor of Chaucers tales. Chaucer also uses the humor in his stories to provide comic relief. The humorous tales act as a sort of comic relief in the novel. Chaucer inserts humorous tales to take away from the impact of more serious tales. Tales such as the Millers Tale and the Reeves tale offset the seriousness of tales such as the Second Nuns Tale and the Pardoners Tale. Many of the tales in Canterbury Tales tell stories of hypocrisy, greed, and poor faith. These tales intend to teach a moral lesson of mans religious duties.
Tales such as the Millers Tale and the Reeves Tale represent a more light-hearted attempt to teach a lesson, usually about marriage, love, and trust. Chaucer inserts these humorous tales in an attempt to bestow upon the reader a message about life. Chaucers jovial approach provides the reader with a message by showing how foolish a certain character acts. The author uses humor to convey messages without seriousness while providing comic relief for the tales with more serious messages and approaches.
The genre of humor which Chaucer uses also adds to its essence. Geoffrey Chaucer uses a form of comic genre called fabliau throughout the novel. Chaucers Millers Tale, Reeves Tale, Shipmans Tale, and Summoners Tale represent fabliaux. A fabliau comes about in the form of a brief comic tale, usually insulting and often obscene. Fabliaux usually take place in the present and the plot describes something familiar to the reader. The genre presents a vivid image of occurrences in everyday life.
Before Chaucer, fabliaux appear only in French literature. Fabliaux usually target greed, hypocrisy, and pride, and they also prey upon old age, ignorance, and husbands attempts to guard their wives chastity. The heroes and heroines, usually young and witty, appear as characters often looked down upon by society. Some heroes in Canterbury tales may surface as lecherous priests, clever citizens, and unchaste wives. The victims usually appear as respectful figures in society.
Some victims may include prosperous people, hard-workers, and women who attempt to remain chaste. Canterbury Tales uses the light-hearted genre to add humor to the novel. Chaucer utilizes the fabliau genre to create a jovial buffoonery in Canterbury Tales. Canterbury Tales provides many lessons and morals while also providing a variety of comic tales. Chaucer inserts many tales of humor into Canterbury Tales. The humor in Canterbury Tales adds emphasis to many lessons in the novel, acts as a comic relief, and demonstrates a rarely used genre of humor.