Chaucer decides to combine these five artisans—a hat and accessories merchant (Haberdasher), a carpenter, a weaver (Webbe), a fabric dyer, and a carpet/tapestry maker (Tapycer) in a portrait.
In lines 381-382, Chaucer shows that he thinks the traders are very smart, even smart enough to become something more valuable. Lines 382-388, help us conclude that they made a lot of money & that their wives felt & pretended to belong to the aristocracy. In other words, they want to be treated like queens.
The craftsmen belonged to the new social class, the middle class. Through their trade they gained reputation and money. They made the finest clothes and weapons for lords, dukes, knights and kings.
John the Carpenter, while admittedly lacking in sense, is probably the most likeable of the four main characters in The Miller’s Tale. After all, he’s the only one who doesn’t cheat or trick anyone.
The Guildsmen & Their roles
The weaver, the dyer and the tapestry maker would all have worked with cloth and may have worked together. The haberdasher, who makes hats and other accessories, and the carpenter operate in independent businesses.
The Guildsmen in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales are a group of 5 characters who have banded together to have more bargaining power. The 5 guildmen all have different professions, which are listed as follows: Haberbery, Carpenter, Weaver, Dyer and Tapestry Maker.
What does the sailor steal while the traders sleep on his boat? Wine.
They are often referred to as the working poor. Skilled workers in this class—carpenters, plumbers, and electricians—are often referred to as laborers.
And Chaucer’s interest in middle-class characters such as chef, carpenter, miller, lawyer, merchant, clerk, doctor reflects the rise of the middle class in the fourteenth century (Collin 1).
He is described in the Tales as being skinny and cranky and old; His hair is cropped short, reflecting his social status as a serf. His sword is rusty while riding a fine gray horse named Scot. The Reeve is a skilled carpenter, a profession satirized in the previous “Miller’s Tale”.
In Anglo-Saxon England, the Reeve was a senior officer with local responsibility under the Crown, such as the chief magistrate of a city or district. After the Norman conquest it was an office held by a man of lower rank, appointed steward of a manor and overseer of the peasants.
Alisoun, John’s wife, Nicholas’ mistress and a well-known local beauty, is the only character in “The Miller’s Tale” who appears to go unpunished in the end. In her portrait at the beginning of the story, the narrator satirizes a medieval literary device called a heraldic shield.
definition of haberdashery
1 British : a merchant of haberdashery. 2 : a retailer of men’s clothing and accessories.
They dressed in very similar uniforms made of fine and new fabric. They weren’t cheap, for Chaucer says their knives were set with silver rather than cheap brass. The men were also real citizens, as if they were local officials.
The Skipper, also known as the Shipman, was exactly what a Shipman was in the Canterbury stories. The ship he helped guide belonged to the trader. He was walking around just trying to avoid trouble. Whenever he could, he stole wine from the ship’s captain and often got into fights.
Definition of guildsman
1 : a guild member. 2 : an advocate of guild socialism.
The guildsmen are treated as a group and are not given individual importance. Chaucer’s intention seems to be to mock the smugness of the guildmen and their wives, who are addressed as “madam” and leave their mark just like kings.
The name Geoffrey Chaucer gives him is Roger of Ware and is described as a great cook who has a bad wound in his leg. The wound on his leg was described as an abdominal pain. For this reason he went on the pilgrimage. The cook believes that this pilgrimage will heal his wound.
We know that the merchant is the fashionista of the group because he wears a “motley” cape (motley motley pattern), a Flemish beaver hat and a forked beard, all together at the time fashion.