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The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer

Foolishness and Folly Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

And thus she maketh Absolon hire ape,
And al his ernest turneth til a jape
.
(286-287)

Is it really Alisoun who makes Absolon appear foolish? Or is it his own refusal to give up the courtship in the face of continued rejection? There is a way in which Alisoun turns Absolon's earnestness into a joke, in her refusal to take it seriously herself.

Quote #5

. . . Nicholas shal shapen him a whyle
This sely jalous housbond to bigyle
.
(300-301)

"Sely" means stupid, but it also means innocent and harmless, the implication being that the innocent lack guile. It's a perfect word to describe John, whose "sely"-ness derives from a somewhat innocent nature that fails to see the treachery in others.

Quote #6

Ye, blessed be alwey a lewed man
That noght but only his bileeve can!

(352-353)

John's defense of the "lewed" or "unlearned" is rendered foolish by the ease with which he is duped by Nicholas only a few lines later. If John had probed further into Nicholas's story, perhaps he would not have been so easily tricked.

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