Abstract

The Miller’s links to festive discourse and popular celebration are well documented. Yet milling itself has often proven difficult to interpret in such terms: for most existing scholarship, the Miller’s trade is the one detail in his portrait that cannot be accommodated into merrymaking. It has instead invited either political or social readings, being interpreted as a signal of active rebellion or as a confirmation of Robyn’s peasant status. However, as this article seeks to demonstrate, the mill can be securely ranked among the festive meanings Chaucer evokes through Robyn. The mill frequently serves as a symbol of carnival across northern Europe, with a wide range of sources associating it with clowning, foolishness, and general revelry. This article reviews some of the points at which milling crosses into the practices and iconography of festivity and related discourses, highlighting the prominent role the mill played in medieval and early modern celebration.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1528-4204
Print ISSN
0009-2002
Pages
pp. 3-35
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-04
Open Access
No
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