Sidney’s assertion that poetry provides a more visceral experience of an event applies to the Canterbury Tales, each of which are told through poetry. The stories within the Canterbury Tales are neither philosophy nor history and yet tell us about the world of the characters sharing the stories. Some of the stories are told as though occurring to personal friends of the narrators but some of the stories, such as the Nun's Priest's Tale, are impossible and cannot be true. Nonetheless the tale has a clear moral lesson that denounces flattery and pride, a common moral lesson. Similarly, the poetic renditions of the story give insight into how stories are received in Chaucer's world; the characters laugh at the stories and make demands of future storytellers that give insight into how those characters are viewed. For instance, when the Miller offers to tell his tale next, the Host suggest that a better person follow the Knight's Tale. The Miller insists however and provides us with the raunchiest of the three tales. The tale is comical in its physical humor and gives memorable images of Allisoun's "erse" and brand on Nicholas's "erse". The language itself isn't as comical as the situational humor within the story.. I didn't notice many puns or verbal comedy but rather that comedy revolved around Allisoun, Nicholas, and John's actions.
I wasn't surprised by how powerful the poetic element was in Chaucer but was surprised by how effective the humor was in conveying a message. All three stories have elements of the ridiculous, particularly the Miller's Tale and the Nun's Priest's Tale. The stories evoke strong responses through the poetic language that conveys the absurdity of the situations described and, in some ways, mask any moralistic message embedded in the stories. The Miller's Tale warns against gullibility and the deception of beautiful young women but before considering this, readers are quickest to note how the Miller conveyed his attitude. Additionally, Allisoun, who may be considered the character in the moral wrong, is not condemned for her actions but instead convinces the town John is mad and she never receives punishment. The listeners and readers understand for themselves what has occurred and it isn't necessary to end the humor of the situation and explain it. The humor throughout Chaucer's Canterbury Tales serves as an effective tool for showing the values of the society the pilgrims live in and the reactions to these values. Some of the Tales, such as that of the Nun's Priest laud those values and demonstrate the good that comes of honoring those values while tales such as the Miller's suggest the opposite. The tales show a diversity of opinions and experiences that powerfully illustrate the society Chaucer depicts.