John and Absolon are the characters in "The Miller's Tale" who appear the most foolish, which raises some interesting questions. John is an unlearned tradesman, but Absolon is an educated parish clerk. Both characters appear foolish in large part because of their devotion to Alisoun. It seems that, in "The Miller's Tale" at least, women are the great equalizers when it comes to foolishness and folly. Even Nicholas has his moment of appearing foolish when, in his effort to impress Alisoun, he sticks his butt out the window and gets branded by Absolon's hot poker. In both Absolon and Nicholas's cases, they appear foolish because of the posturing they indulge in. John's case is sadder because his foolishness results out of a true but misguided devotion to his wife.
"The Miller's Tale" portrays appearing foolish as the result of trying to get attention.
"The Miller's Tale" portrays appearing foolish as the consequence of love.