The Miller's Tale
1. What is the Miller's condition as he begins to tell his tale?
He is drunk.
2. Who is Nicholas?
He is a student (mostly interested in astrology and telling the future) who has come to
board with the carpenter and the carpenter's new wife.
3. Describe the carpenter's wife, Alison.
She is young and beautiful.
4. How did Nicholas get the carpenter out of the way so he and Alison could sleep together?
He pretended to have had a premonition of a second great flood that would destroy the
world, and he convinced the carpenter to make preparations to save the three of them. The
carpenter was to get three tubs and hang them under the roof. On the night the flood was to
happen, the three would spend the night in the separate tubs. They did so, and when the
carpenter fell asleep, Alison and Nicholas climbed out of their tubs and ran off to the
bedroom.
5. Identify Absalom.
He was the parish clerk who loved Alison, too. He also wanted Alison for himself.
6. What joke did Alison and Nicholas play on Absalom?
When Absalom came to Alison's window pleading for a kiss, she agreed. She opened her
window and stuck out her behind, which unsuspecting Absalom kissed.
7. How did Absalom get even with Alison and Nicholas?
He went to the blacksmith's shop and borrowed a hot iron. When he came back for
another kiss, he put the hot iron on the bare behind that was stuck out of the window.
8. Why did the village people think the carpenter was crazy?
When Nicholas's behind got burned, he began yelling, "Help! Water!" The carpenter,
thinking the flood had come, cut the ropes holding the tub which fell to the floor. People came
to see what the commotion was all about, and they saw the carpenter (broken arm and all) in a
tub ranting about a flood. Nicholas pretended not to know what the carpenter was talking
about, and brushed him off as having gone crazy, an explanation the people easily accepted
and joked about.