The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale Foolishness and Folly Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
And thus she maketh Absolon hire ape,
And al his ernest turneth til a jape.
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.
. . . Nicholas shal shapen him a whyle
This sely jalous housbond to bigyle.
"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.
Ye, blessed be alwey a lewed man
That noght but only his bileeve can!
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.