The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
This parish clerk, this joly Absolon
Hath in his herte swich a love-longinge,
That of no wyf ne took he noon offringe;
For curteisye, he seyde, he wolde noon.
In contrast to Nicholas, who gets an urge to "rage and pleye" with Alisoun (170), the story actually uses "love-longinge" to describe what Absolon feels for Alisoun. This raises the question of how the clerks' feelings for Alisoun differ. (Or do they?)
For some folk wol ben wonnen for richesse,
And som for strokes, and som for gentillesse.
With this, we have a neat summary of the three methods Alisoun's lovers employ. Alisoun has presumably married John because he can offer her security – the "richesse" of which these lines speak. Nicholas wins Alisoun with a physically aggressive approach akin to "strokes," whereas Absolon prefers the "gentillesse," or noble method, of constant romantic overtures.
Ful sooth is this proverbe, it is no lye,
Men seyn right thus, 'Alwey the nye slye
Maketh the ferre leve to be looth.'
For though that Absolon be wood or wrooth,
By cause that he fer was from hir sighte,
This nye Nicholas stood in his lighte.
This suggestion that the person closest to the object of desire is always the one who obtains it suggests that love is more often a matter of convenience than fate or true affinity. It's yet one more cynical statement about love in a tale that tends to reduce love to sexual desire.