The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale
How we cite our quotes:
And prively he caughte hire by the queynte,
And seyde, 'Y-wis, but if ich have my wille,
For derne love of thee, lemman, I spille.'
Nicholas's claim that he will die if he does not have sex with Alisoun is an echo of the moment in courtly romance in which the young bachelor complains of his love-sickness to his beloved. Of course, those lovers don't usually begin by grabbing their ladies' "queynte," or genitals.
This Nicholas gan mercy for to crye,
And spak so faire, and profred him so faste,
That she hir love him graunted atte laste.
The assertion here that Alisoun "granted" Nicholas her love – which suggests that she has control over the situation – contrasts with the animal imagery that makes her seem like only an object of others' desires.
When Nicholas had doon thus everydeel,
He thakked hire aboute the lendes weel,
He kiste hire swete, and taketh his sautrye,
And pleyeth faste, and maketh melodye.
Nicholas "thakked [Alisoun] aboute the lendes weel," the medieval equivalent of saying he slapped her butt This is an example of the crude, bawdy terms with which "The Miller's Tale" often describes sex. The fact that Nicholas concludes the episode by playing his sautrye (harp) suggests that his conscience is carefree, untroubled by the sin he has just committed.