The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Morey, James H. "The 'Cultour' in the Miller's Tale: Alison as Iseult." 29 (1995): 373-81.
Absolon's use of a coulter to requite Alisoun in the Miller's Tale alludes to the medieval custom of trial by ordeal particularly in cases of suspected adultery. That Alisoun escapes unharmed reminds readers of the story of Tristan and Iseult, particularly the moment when Iseult is tested for adultery by carrying hot iron. That Nicholas is burned suggests that he is guilty of betraying John. Chaucer probably knew the story from Sir Tristrem, extant in a late thirteenth-century manuscript. Alison's avoiding of the hot coulter shows us just how clever she is.