The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story The Miller's Prologue Summary
After the Knight's tale has concluded, the narrator describes the very favorable reaction of the pilgrims to the tale.
The Host announces that, now, the game has truly begun. He asks the Monk to tell the next tale.
The Miller, who is drunk, yells out that he knows a noble tale with which he will "quite," or top, the Knight's tale.
The Host tells the Miller that another pilgrim will tell a tale first.
The Miller says that he will tell his tale, or else leave the fellowship.
The Host grudgingly agrees to let the Miller tell his tale first.
The Miller announces that he is drunk, and asks the other pilgrims to forgive him if he misspeaks, for it is really the fault of the ale of Southwark.
The Miller announces his intention to tell a story about a carpenter and his wife, and how a clerk makes a fool of the carpenter.
The Reeve (a.k.a. carpenter) tells the Miller to shut up, and that it's a sin to insult another, and to speak ill of wives.
The Miller tells the Reeve that the only people who don't get "cuckolded" (cheated on) are those who don't have wives. However, he says, surely the Reeve is not a cuckold, for there are also many good wives.
The Miller says that he has a wife, but he's certainly not naïve enough to believe that she hasn't cheated on him. Furthermore, a husband shouldn't inquire too deeply into the affairs of God, or of his wife.
The narrator breaks in again to tell how the Miller won't stop talking and tells a very "churlish" – or "low-born fellow's" tale. He tells his audience not to blame him if they are offended, for it is his duty simply to "reherce," or repeat, everything exactly as it happened. If the readers don't want to hear a churlish tale, they can turn the page and find many other more "noble" stories, as well as moral and holy tales. And furthermore, says the narrator, people should not "maken ernest of game," or take too seriously what is meant to be all in fun.