Jenifer Sutherland
January 16



To Top
January 9 I January16 I January23 I January 30

January 16

Pasolini's "The Creation of Eve"by Margherita Ziraldo


Professor Sutherland stated that we will get the essay topics on January 23rd. We will be expected to use at least two secondary sources in our papers. These sources may be obtained via the MLA found on the U of T web site. Lastly, the Professor encouraged us to send her our essay outlines for comments and suggestions before final submission.

At the top of the class the Professor asked us to take note of a couple of themes while reading the tales. We need to be aware of the shift from sexual love to spiritual love. An example of this shift is the chaos of male passion in the Knight’s Tale which evolves into social order. We also need to look at Chaucer’s use of suffering as a catalyst for order. To that end, the Fury of Saturn serves order rather than chaos.

We started tonight’s tales by comparing the descriptions of the main pilgrims to those of their counterparts in the tales. This lead us to observe the verbal exchanges in the prologues between characters who were offended by parodies of their "estate". The verbal exchanges also reflect a move in the social standing of the pilgrims from that of the elite "gentil" class (Knight’s Tale) to that of the more outspoken "cherle" class (lower class).

The Host’s line in the Miller’s Prologue "unbokeled is the male" has a ring of lewdness, which sets the stage for the three tales to follow. Likewise at the end of the Prologue the narrator warns us of the impending baseness of the tales to follow. The assumption is that "cherles’ tell obscene stories.
A prevalent theme in the three stories is the anti-feminist view of women as betrayers of love. Where Emily in the Knight’s Tale was seen as a romantic, pure figure, the descriptions of Alison, and the wife and her daughter in the Miller’s Tale are less pristine. They are given animal attributes as in Alison’s weasel-like features as well as a penchant for sex.

After Ryan’s discussion of the Fabliau, Professor Sutherland drew similarities between these tales and the typical fabliau. The Reeve’s Tale is in typical fabliau style in that it uses few words, its details are concise, and each detail is meaningful to the story. For instance, the detailed layout of the bedroom leads the reader to expect sexual folly of some sort. Other Fabliau symbols include the snoring scenes found in both the Reeve’s Tale and Miller’s Tale and the lack of any type of moralizing as with the rape of the Miller’s daughter. The pretension’s of the Miller, which are undermined by his wife’s tarnished background and the promiscuity of his daughter are good use of satire within the fabliau. Finally, the neat and tidy endings, which end in some kind of lesson or non-moral moral (the miller gets what he deserves), are also reflective of the fabliau.

After break, Susan gave a report on theatre in the Middle Ages. The Professor then discussed how the fabliau is expanded in the Miller’s Tale. This is done by including two tales as well as by extending the portraits of the characters. Professor Sutherland then asked us to look at other ways in which Chaucer expands the fabliau.

The last theme, which the Professor asked us to consider, was the religious tension in the fabliaux. At this time there was a religious debate going on as to how much knowledge a person should be allowed. We looked at the use of theatre throughout the prologue and tale as an example of popular religion. The Miller is a prime example of someone unschooled and with superficial religious knowledge gained through local theatrical performances. He also believes that certain things should be kept private ("Goddes pryvetee"). These would include knowledge of God and of women. Ironically, his ignorance makes him a prime candidate for manipulation by the more learned "hendes Nicholas". He ends up playing the role of Noah in his own domestic drama.

To Top