Nocturnal Ecologies: Metaphor in the Miller’s and the Reeve’s Tale

  • Shawn Normandin
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter reassesses the Miller’s naturalism. Many critics have praised the Miller for his representation of natural vitality, and readers have often preferred the Miller’s naturalism to the Knight’s gloomy artifice. Yet the Miller’s apparent love of nature is fragile, and his enemy the Reeve knows it. The feud between the Miller and the Reeve is a debate about metaphor. This chapter explains how medieval and classical understandings of figurative language inform Chaucer’s fabliaux. The Miller’s narrative derides metaphor (and simile) as delusions, but he indulges the fantasy that a proper male subject can abstain from these tropes. The Reeve, by contrast, presents metaphorical delusions as unavoidable consequences of human embeddedness in a more-than-human world whose most powerful agent is the sun.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shawn Normandin
    • 1
  1. 1.Sungkyunkwan UniversitySeoulKorea (Republic of)

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