| Quote #7
Of gooth the skin an hande-brede aboute,
One of the signs of madness was thought to be an inability to control one's emotions, which is why Nicholas's wails of pain make him seem "as he were wood." This is not the first or last time yelling and caterwauling is associated with madness.
| Quote #8
For when he spak, he was anon bore doun
One wonders whether John would have been able to avoid being labeled mad had he not been quickly shouted down by Nicholas and Alisoun. This episode illustrates the importance of having one's version of events heard and understood in order to lay claim to sanity.
| Quote #9
For what so that this carpenter answerde,
The proximity here of John being "sworn adoun" (sworn down) to his being "holden wood" (held to be mad) again emphasizes the power of getting people to hear you. John has a reasonable explanation; he's just unable to get anyone's attention before Nicholas and Alisoun jump in.