The Knight’s and Miller’s Tales in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

English / April 23, 2015 / No Comments /
This paper is fairly theoretical but it uses common close reading techniques on both the primary and secondary texts of The Canterbury Tales to exam issues of sexuality and class in the Knight’s Tale and the Miller’s Tale. The Canterbury tales text used was not translated so the quotations are still in Chaucerian English.
In, The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction, Michel Foucault writes of the seventeenth century as the beginning of an age of repression emblematic of what we call the bourgeois societies (17). Thus placing Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales decidedly before this age of repression, in a time when sexual practices had little need of secrecy; words were said without undue reticence, and things were done without too much concealment, when, one had a tolerant familiarity with the illicit (Foucault 3). With this historical demarcation in mind I would like to consider the erotic triangles dealt with in the first two stories of The Canterbury Tales and how they relate to expressions of a class-conscious male sexuality. To do this I will be drawing heavily on the introduction and first chapter of Eve Sedgwick’s seminal text, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire, for a theoretical and critical base.Specifically I will be looking at the climactic moments of these first two tales (the Knight’s and the Miller’s) to analyze how the problematic erotic triangles are worked out between the two men involved, and comparing the way class difference makes itself apparent.

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