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Word Count: 1,695
Perhaps the greatest disservice that one can do to Chaucers Canterbury Tales is to see them just as an anthology With the Prologue as a kind of annotated table of contents few ever read the tales from first to last and for educational purposes the poems do lend themselves to individual study But Chaucer plainly did not envision them as disjointed independent works What critics have styled headlinks and endlinks clearly indicate the dramatic nature of the whole work in the poets mind We must read the tales as organic utterances growing out of the interplay between the pilgrims Deferring to the Knights social superiority over all the others the Host has arranged it so that he tells the first story The ensuing narrative is a classical story of two genteel knights who are rivals for the love of the same maiden The tale is wholesome is morally above reproach Giving the Knight due praise for such an upright story the Host moves to the ranking member of the clergy the Monk and asks him for a tale to match the Knights But the Miller interrupts asserting that he can outshine the Knights tale The Host tells him to let some better man go before him but the Miller threatens to secede from the party Because the Host cannot afford for dissent to spoil the pilgrimage in the first few miles he reluctantly tolerates the Millers bad manners The Miller claims that despite his intoxication he will tell a story of a carpenter and a wife The Reeve complains that he wants to hear no ribaldry against working men or married women but the Miller will not be stopped Geoffrey the narrator interrupts the narrative to remind readers that the Miller is a churl and that the story he will tell is likely to be coarse The Miller then describes a typical love-triangle from the tradition of the fabliau the medieval vulgar
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