The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale Madness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
For though that Absolon be wood or wroth,
By cause that he fer was from hir sighte,
This nye Nicholas stood in his lighte.
This quote says that Alisoun wouldn't even notice Absolon if he were crazy, so distracted is she by Nicholas. Madness here is held out as the ultimate attention-getter, a condition that makes a person into a spectacle one can't help but gawk at.
This knave gooth him up ful sturdily,
And at the chambre dore, whyl that he stood,
He cryde and knokked as that he were wood.
The servant's banging and hollering upon Nicholas's door "as that he were wood" (as if he were crazy) is a foreshadowing of the madness John thinks he observes in Nicholas, and later the moment in which Nicholas and Alisoun run shouting into the streets.
And at the laste he hadde of him a sighte.
This Nicholas sat evere caping uprighte,
As he had kyked on the newe mone.
A common superstition in medieval England (and today, for that matter) was that staring too long at the new moon would make you crazy. The image of Nicholas sitting bolt-upright, staring straight ahead is pretty creepy; you can understand why it would freak John out.