The Knight’s Tale and the Miller’s Tale
An elderly authority figure is a character that is present in both the Knight’s Tale and the Miller’s Tale.
Both “The Knight’s Tale” and “The Miller’s Tale” include/contain/employ/utilize the archetype of the elderly authority figure.
Although both “The Miller’s Tale” and “The Knight’s Tale” include combat, they could not be more different, as “The Miller’s Tale” includes slapstick prank violence while the violence in “The Knight’s Tale” is more serious in tone. The fierce combat in “The Knight’s Tale” is exceptionally epic, as Arcite and Palamon each lead a large army into battle: “Each with a hundred knights to take part in a glorious tournament, with Emily’s hand going to the winner.” The grand nature of this combat demonstrates the serious consequences associated with victory in a chivalric romance. By contrast, the violence in “The Miller’s Tale” never escalates to a life and death situation, even though some characters mockingly think so: “The hot iron had burnt him in his bum and from the smart he thought he would die.” Though Absalon and Nicholas use physical violence throughout the tale to try to win Alison’s hand in marriage, the violence is more slapstick and humorous in tone as compared to that of “The Knight’s Tale.”
A representation of how “The Knight’s Tale” and “The Miller’s Tale” differ from each other is through the idea of love at first sight. The idea of love at first sight is present in “The Miller’s Tale,” when the nerdy parish clerk Absalon sees Alison for the first time: “And as he [Absalon] passed, / Many a longing look on them he cast - / Especially on this carpenter’s wife. / Just looking at her made a merry life” (Chaucer 3341-3344). With this scene, Chaucer inverts the classical conventions of love at first sight, as this unattractive male tries to woo the beautiful and seductive damsel.
By contrast, the element of love at first sight in “The Knight’s Tale” is very conventional, as it depicts a romance that knows no bounds – even prison: “From their barred prison window, the two young men see the lovely Emily and both fall in love with her” (Chaucer 1). Arcite and Palamon, the heroes of “The Knight’s Tale,” are much more attractive and chivalric than their counterpart Absalon, and Emily is much more lady-like and refined than is Alison.
Chivalry, honor, religion, battles, and action are words that represent the themes of “The Knight’s Tale;” although in the same universe, “The Miller’s Tale” includes sacrilegious themes such as lust, vulgar humor, and “slapstick” comedy.