The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale
Competition Quotes Page 1
How we cite our quotes:
This carpenter hadde wedded newe a wyf
Which that he lovede more than his lyf;
Of eightetene yeer she was of age.
Jalous he was and heeld hire narwe in cage,
For she was wilde and yong, and he was old
And demed himself ben lyk a cokewold.
The narrator claims that John's fear of competition for his wife's affections causes him to keep Alisoun locked up, away from other men. Yet the evidence of John's actions in the tale, such as his tolerance of a young male boarder and his frequent business trips, suggest that John actually does not perceive himself to be in competition with other men.
Nicholas shal shapen him a wyle
This sely jalous housbond to bigyle;
And if so be the game went aright,
She sholde slepen in his arm al night.
The "game" the text refers to here is the competition between Nicholas and John for Alisoun's body. For Nicholas, it is not enough to have sex with Alisoun occasionally; he must do so for an extended period of time in John's bed to consider the game fully gone "aright."
For som folk wol ben wonnen for richesse,
And som fro strokes, and som for gentilesse.
The idea that a lover is a prize to be won turns the lover into an object. This language fits well with the characterization of Alisoun as animal-like, and thus objectified, in her sexuality.