The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale
Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
And hende Nicholas and Alisoun
Accorded been to this conclusioun,
that Nicholas shal shapen him a wyle
This sely jalous housbond to bigyle.
By referring here to John as "sely" (stupid) and jealous, the text somewhat mitigates Nicholas and Alisoun's treachery, suggesting that John deserves to be tricked.
And to his wyf he tolde his privetee;
And she was war, and knew it bet than he,
What al this queynte cast was for to seye.
But nathelees she ferde as she wolde deye.
This passage subtly invokes sex with the words "privetee" and "queynte," which both have a second meaning of genitals. Alisoun's feigning of distress here is all the more repugnant given our knowledge of John's sincere concern for his wife, who is the only person he is truly worried about saving from the flood.
Aboute corfew-tyme, or litel more;
For travail of his gost, he grooneth sore,
And eft he routeth, for his heed mislay.
Doun of the laddre stalketh Nicholay,
And Alisoun, ful softe adoun she spedde;
Withouten wordes mo, they goon to bedde.
The haste with which Nicholas and Alisoun go to bed suggests that their desires are uncontrollable and overwhelming. This characterization contrasts with the image of John snoring soundly in his tub. The lovers seem healthy and energetic, whereas John appears old and decrepit.