The Canterbury Tales Essay

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In the following essay, Gallacher applies Maurice Merleau-Ponty's ideas on perception to "the much-discussed portrait of Alison and to the perceptual responses of John, Absolon, and Nicholas" in "The Miller's Tale."

The "Miller's Tale," if not the fabliau as a genre, presents us with a pattern of mistakes in perception, a sharp, dramatic contrast between the real and the imaginary, which confirms basic assumptions about our world at the same time that it raises important questions. Although our sense of the real begins with what is both actual and possible in perception, it is easy to confuse the two, or to underestimate one or the other. The relevant truism, of course, is that we usually think we know what's there, but we often don't. In fact, the main comic incidents in the "Miller's Tale"—kiss, laying on of hot ploughshare, falling off the roof—belong to that type...

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This section contains 3,801 words
(approx. 10 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Canterbury Tales Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
The Canterbury Tales from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.