In the Miller’s Tale, the reader is given the moral of the story before it begins. “ An housbond shal nat been inquisitif / Of Goddess privitee, nor of his wyf. / So he may finde Goddes foyson there, / Of the remenant nedeth nat enquere. “ (lines 54-57) The Miller warns the audience that a man should not look into the private matters of God, or the private matters of his wife.
This moral is exemplified in the story in many ways. Everyone in the tale who concerns themselves with another’s privitee suffers consequences. At first, the Carpenter seems to have an understanding of the conception of privitee, as he warns the young scholar not took gaze into the stars and try to understand God’s private business. “
The carpenter to blessen him bigan, / And seyde, ‘ Help us, Seinte Fridesqyde / A man woot litel what him shal bityde. / This man is falle, with his astromye, / In som woodnesse or in som agonye: I thoghte ay wel how that it sholde be! / Men sholde nat knowe of Goddess privitee.” (lines 263-268). While the Carpenter shows that he knows it is dangerous to try and understand the workings of God, he is unable to apply this same concept to his wife. He is extremely jealous, and obsessive over his wife and her whereabouts, and as a result looses her to the young scholar, and is made to look a fool and insane. While the tale uses vulgar and ridiculous humor to show the consequences of looking into someone else’s privitee, the strong message somehow remains intact, as you see that every single character must suffer the consequences of their actions, even if that consequence is kissing someone’s arse.
In the Nun’s Priest’s Tale, the reader is also presented with a warning. This warning is to not believe or accept flattery from another. The Priest tells a story of chickens and a rooster, who dreams that he is going to die. Despite this fear and warning when confronted with a fox, the rooster is a victim of the Fox’s flattery and is soon captured. I found it interesting that the Priest choose to tell his tale using animals, whereas the Miller seemed to make a more direct attack on the Reeve.
Both of these tales brought up interesting debates. The Miller’s tale tells us not to concern ourselves with the private business of God, wives, or others, yet our current culture and society does just that. In a world of facebook, myspace, and twitter we are entirely obsessed with knowing the private business of others. We can see what they did over the weekend in pictures, read conversations between someone and their boyfriend, friend, or sister. With status updates we can be aware of what and where a person is. From a simple click you can learn someone’s favorite bands, favorite tv shows, favorite books. All without conversation.
Beyond our ability to look into the private business of our friends, we are obsessed with knowing the private business of others. We buy magazines filled with celebrities going about their daily lives, and become obsessed with their situations, pictures, and drama. Perezhilton.com focuses solely on celebrity gossip and looking into the lives of others. We have reality television, which is the epitomy of looking into the private business of another, as we quite literally look into the life of someone else from the comfort of our own living room.
What is it about our society that we feel the need to look into the private lives and business of others? Part of me feels that this desire has always existed, but the means for satisfying that desire have changed. Before facebook, before reality tv, a way to look into the life and mind of another was to read a book. What better way to get a taste for another’s life than to read their thoughts, and witness their life unfold. It seems to me that we have become greedy. Less satisfied with looking into the lives of fictional characters, and more into the lives of real people.
If the Miller’s Tale holds true, it won’t be long before we are all made a fool. The fact that the Miller’s Tale is still so completely relevant today, is what makes Chacuer so amazing. All of his Tale’s contain not only descriptions of the character of the time, and of people of that time, but of universal truth’s about man kind, and our desires and hopes.