This displays his enjoyment of social mingling and his love of displaying his talent in singing and dancing for all to see in public places. By showing off his acting talent as Herod in the town ‘he playeth Herodes upon a scaffold hye,’ Chaucer creates a ridiculous image of Absalon’s girlish character with a high-pitched voice playing a villainous, authoritative man, which can be ridiculed by the Miller. Absalon’s behaviour contrasts with Nicholas secretive nature and his solitude in his lonely bedroom, ‘alonne, withouten any compaignie.
‘ This creates the link with the Knights tale as Palamon is stuck in his cell while Arcite leaves prison and creates a life within the world. Nicholas represents Arcite while Absalon acts as the parody for Palamon who makes a life within the world yet does not win the heart of Alison. However, both characters share a main interest in women. Although the interaction with women and their views oppose each other, they both are rivals for Alison’s love.
Both Characters help create the parody of the Knights tale by twisting the theme of courtly love and separating the factors that make a courtly lover and creating quite distinct contrasts to the love rivalry displayed between Arcite and Palamon. Nicholas’ behaviour towards Alison is quite vulgar and forceful as he objectifies Alison as a sex object and physically seduces her through kissing her and stroking her, ‘And heeld hire by the haunchebones’. These are not the actions of a courtly lover yet he uses the language of a knight.
‘ Or I wol dyen, also God me save’, as he begs for mercy for his life as he claims that he cannot live without her love, he creates a persona that he is a courtly lover, although his actions suggest otherwise. In comparison, Absalon creates a very different image and uses other influences from the courtly love approach. His attitudes towards women display his admiration and longing for a love that he cannot receive. ‘And many a lovely look on hem he caste’, suggests that Absalon looks upon women amorously but does not make any physical suggestion towards them.
‘That of no wyf took he noon offringe’ describes how he will not take any gift from a woman, even though the offerings are towards the Church fund, not to him. This is utterly ridiculous yet he considers it a courteous gesture, and is used by Chaucer to add to the sense of ridicule he receives from the Miller. His fondness for Alison portrays the idea of courtly love through the idea that he gazes on her from afar, ‘To look on hire he thoughte a mirie lyf.
‘ He also sends her gifts and sings to her, and his declaration of his love for Alison through emotional language as Nicholas did, ‘I praye yow that ye wole rewe on me’ shows Absalon’s attempt to make his image one of a courtly lover, because he notices elements of one in himself in his vanity. However, Absalon’s girlish nature and femininity creates faults in his attempts. The competition and rivalry between the two men is unknown to each other, yet the Miller offers his own opinion onto the situation.
‘Alwey the nie slie Maketh the ferre leeve to be looth’ The Miller relates this to his introduction to the story in which he discusses the unfaithfulness of women and how even his own wife has probably made a cuckold out of him also. The Miller views Nicholas as the crafty and sly deviant that makes a fool out of honest husbands. This trait is one of the first things that the reader learns about Nicholas in his knowledge, ‘derne love he koude’.
The Miller’s voice seeps through into tale with his advice ‘men sholde wedden after hire estaat’, and the young clerk is there to aid his tale and prove his advice to be wise and correct. In contrast, the Miller’s opinion of Absalon is one of much less respect and admiration. In the Miller’s eye, Absalon is the fool and the jester within his tale. His flamboyancy and vivacity create laughable events and features within, such as the refusal of the donations to the church, or the image of his legs tossing to and fro while playing his fiddle.
Absalon- in The Miller’s opinion is a pathetic fool, love-lorn and pretentious. The combination of all these features creates a child-like, innocent character, who attempts to woo the beautiful Alison in foolishness. Driven by the nai?? ve hope that she will fall for his attempts at courtly love and his own self-love leads to a belief within himself that he has a chance. His pathetic endeavours are mocked by the Miller through false admiration and by patronising him, ‘A mirie child he was, So God me save. ‘
Chaucer humorously combines the parody with the Knights Tale with the Miller’s parody and mockery of the theme of courtly love and satire. His presentation of Nicholas plays on his lack of delicacy in his actions to shock the audience after being lulled into the sense of a respectable scholar. Simple language indicates a crude sexuality in Nicholas that juxtaposes against his language that is eloquent and courtly. His aristocratic behaviour is brought into perspective by provincial behaviour and aspirations for Alison.
Chaucer uses the Miller’s voice for his description of Absalon rather than voicing his own opinion amongst the text. This emphasises the disapproval of the character by the storyteller. The Miller’s mock admiration coincides with the use of an energetic, comical character that Chaucer has used to create a light-hearted tone. In summary, Absalon strives to have exactly what Nicholas has without being aware of it. Absalon’s enthusiastic vanity and interest in making himself look the best that he can contrasts against Nicholas’ natural meekness and good looks.
Absalon wishes to have affairs with the women of the Parish just as Nicholas has, and helped wives make cuckolds of their husbands. Nicholas’ education and scholastics are sought through Absalon’s service skills such as barber work, and his little ‘rubible’ is totally inferior in comparison to the harp that Nicholas so graciously plays at night time to woo women. Finally, the main thing that both men want- yet Nicholas already has is Alison’s requited affections. This creates two love rivals who are totally different yet share the same ambitions.