The event shows numerous character traits of both Nicholas and John. For example, it shows Nicholas’s skill as an actor, as, even when a door is knocked to the floor, he is able to remain “stille as stoon”. This also shows how Nicholas is taking the plan very seriously, and is willing to prevent himself from flinching when the knave knocks down the door. Hence, this shows how Nicholas is taking extreme action to fully humiliate John. This reveals that Nicholas is callous and uncaring that he will not only sleep with John’s wife but also wishes to humiliate him further in the process.
The use of enjambment over lines 405-410 reflect the idea that Nicholas has fully thought out the plan before he has told John, and has covered every detail. For example “I have found in myn astologie, As I have looked in the moone bright, That now a Monday next…”. This continuation of a sentence over 5 lines demonstrates how Nicholas knows exactly what to say in that he has no need to pause and think about what he should say next – his delivery of the plan to John is flawless. This idea is continued throughout the poem when Nicholas is talking about all the different aspects of the plan.
Nicholas is also portrayed as being patronising and manipulative. He does not simply tell the story of ‘what happened to him’ and hope that John will believe him, but he says “I wol nat lie”. In the same way, Nicholas makes the whole plan worse by flattering John “John myn hooste, life and deere”. Nicholas is manipulating John into believing him using flattery however this simply portrays Nicholas as being crueler as he is telling John that he is “deere” yet wishes to humiliate him.
The extract also shows how Nicholas is clever and cunning and has fully thought out the plan to the final detail so that John will indefinitely carry out the task that they tell him. He ensures this by having his “dore faste shette” and by telling John that “if thou telle it man, tho art forlore”. This means that no one else will hear what Nicholas is telling John, and hence cannot prove him wrong and ruin his plan.
He is also clever as Nicholas creates the story that he knows about the flood because of his astrology and ability to predict the weather “”I have yfounde in myn astrologie”. Chaucer mentioned that Nicholas studied the weather “men asked him…whan that men sholde have droghte or elles shoures”, at the very beginning of the tale and hence set the scene for what was to come later in the poem. Thus, Nicholas again shows that he has taken consideration into making the plan as believable as possible by using feasible reasons for how he knows about the flood meaning that the story is more credible.
This could also show something about the character of John, in that he cannot be as stupid as everyone makes him out to be, if Nicholas is having to consider all parts of his plan, and give valid reasons for every aspect of the story. If John was truly stupid, he would believe whatever Nicholas told him or whatever reason for knowing Nicholas gave. However, on the other hand, John is made to look extremely foolish and show the extent of his stupidity during the extract.
For example, although Nicholas provides a valid reason for how and why he was told about the flood, and knew the flood was coming, astrology would not provide details of exactly when the flood would come, yet Nicholas tells John that the flood will come “Monday next, at quarter night” and John believes him. In the same way, Nicholas tells him that the flood will last “lasse than an hour” which again shows John’s stupidity in that it is impossible for a flood to occur even with the heaviest rain, in only an hour.
Nicholas ensures John’s stupidity is further shown by asking “Hastow nat herd hou saved was Noe” i.e. if John knows the story of Noah. The fact that John replies that he does makes him seem even more stupid, as if he knew the story and knew the Bible, he would know that God promised never again to send another flood. “Sely” John’s foolishness is also shown by the fact he never questions why God has chosen Nicholas to be saved. This shows not only his stupidity, but Nicholas’ skill in convincing John that he should be saved, and is in fact on a par with Noah. “Axe not why for though thou aske me I wol not telln Goddes privitee”.
This quote also shows a tone continued through the play of mockery of the church, in that Chaucer is showing how sinful people claim that they are religious and holy. For example, Nicholas is claiming to have seen a vision from God in order for him to commit adultery. This creates a general tone in the poem that the church should not be taken seriously. This point is reflected by the fact that John does not even know properly the story of Noah, hence is not a noble character as he is clearly not religious.