The Reeve’s Rebuttal
The Reeve of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales I portrayed in the first as “old and choleric and thin”(605), choleric meaning short-tempered and yellow. All of Chaucer’s descriptions of the pilgrims in his tales give an insight into and very well foreshadow the their tale to come, and the Reeve is of course no exception. His description continues, portraying him with a conservative and resolve appearance, and one of fierce authority. Clever, calculating, and ruthless seem to sum up his personality, an imposing persona in a weakening body. And when it comes his time to tell his tale, he is quick t fight tale to tale with the Miller to embarrass him more so, being a carpenter himself and having the Millers tale just so insultingly decrying another carpenter.
His description is immediately true, as his short-temper brings his tale of a hapless and cruel miller’s defeat in order to decry the Miller.
In the Reeve’s tale, two scholars visit a cheat of a miller from the local university with corn to grind. These boys eventually turn the tables on the miller, and thus it is no small surprise that the position these boys are in is similar to the Reeve’s career as well. The boys, clever and aware, watch to make sure they wouldn’t get cheated by the miller, so in turn the miller lets loose their horse, delaying their return home and letting the miller keep a cut of the corn. To take back what’s theirs ad have the final insult, one of the boys has his way with the millers daughter, and the other his way with the wife. Though undetermined, this could be a clever complementing of the reeve’s younger life.
The story, though complete with a moral of the wicked getting their just rewards, is little more than snipe at the real Miller, having him be beaten, tricked, and dishonored by the younger Reeve’s versions.
In the prologue of The Canterbury Tales, the Reeve is a ragged older version of the boys later to come in his story. Chaucer keeps the teller of each tale with a vital component and reflection of the tale itself. The Reeve being grouchy yet clever, and old yet well off, uses his tale to take rank as a carpenter, and equally denounce the Miller who had tried to defame him. His beating is not physical, but verbal, and the tale is nothing if not a short-tempered retort directed at the Miller. .