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The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer

Madness Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

For though that Absolon be wood or wroth,
By cause that he fer was from hir sighte,
This nye Nicholas stood in his lighte
.
(291-293)

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.

Quote #2

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
.
(331-333)

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.

Quote #3

And at the laste he hadde of him a sighte.
This Nicholas sat evere caping uprighte,
As he had kyked on the newe mone
.
(340-343)

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.

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