Color Symbolism in The Miller’s Tale of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales

April 16, 2019 by Essay Writer

“The Miller’s Tale”, a ribald and bawdy fabliaux about the generation gap, youthful lust, aged foolishness, and the selfishness and cruelty of people towards each other, contains a wealth of color terms which add to and expand the meaning of this rustic tale. The teller, too, the Miller, is described in detail in Chaucer’s “Prologue” with several colors attached to him. The colors employed by Chaucer were important not only for the vividness of the description to help to make a mental image for the hearers (or readers,) but also for clues to the nature of the characters described. Sometimes there are several layers of meaning in one color term describing an aspect of a human being or a piece of clothing, and these meanings can create multiple readings of increasingly revelatory and sometimes contradictory significance.

Color symbolism was far more important in medieval society than it is today. Colors meant many things, and the different shades and hues chosen for clothing, furnishings, and even hair-tinting (in additions to natural variations of these hues) were all imbued with meaning within a social and religious context:

…color [was] a favorite ploy of Satan and his cohorts, used in their tireless efforts to trip up humanity as it struggled along the rocky path to salvation. Adherents of this theory thought color very suspect, doubly corrupted by the Fall of Man that had made the material world ephemeral and transient…The Middle Ages had color cultists, however, who argued that color was actually the product of a divine light that brought matter to life. (Pleij 1-2)

An interesting side note, described by Pleij, is that before the Renaissance, bright and rich colors were considered both formal and acceptable for daily wear, which is why the Miller could wear “a hood of blue and a white coat” (Chaucer 18) for his traveling costume. Our perception of the Middle Ages, portrayed in film, is of most of the common people clothed in drab brown and grey homespun fabric, interspersed, perhaps, with the richer robes of the clergy and the nobility. However, color was employed in every conceivable way in garments, even among the poor, and if we were able to view the dress of the Pilgrims described by Chaucer, we would most likely see a riot of color. It was not until much later than Chaucer’s time that the colors of blue and black (colors of the firmament, and, therefore, of God) became the colors of “earthly abnegation, extreme asceticism, deep sorrow, and supreme humility” (Pleij 6). Bright colors became traits of the devil, and the somber blues and blacks became the colors of the righteous (especially later among the Protestants – note the uniformly black wear of Dutch merchants of the Renaissance, and the black-and-white costumes of the Puritan Pilgrims in America.) This preference for blue and black has been held over even to the present day, in modern formal and evening wear, especially for men (Ibid).

The medieval folk described by Chaucer had no such compunctions about color. “If any one era could be singled out as being the most obsessed with color, it would be the Middle Ages.” (Pleij 4) What, then, did the colors in the description of the Miller, and then the colors employed by him in his Tale, contribute to the meaning of the story? The Miller’s hair is “Red as the bristles in an old sow’s ear”. Red was often associated with hot-temperedness and sexual incontinence, and red hair and ruddy skin were associated with the “other” in medieval art. The devil is depicted, infernally, with red hair. (JTS article). Red hair was, in fact, a stock negative connotation for a whole host of evil characters, including, specifically, “greedy millers” (Pleij 82). Medieval negative attitudes toward redheads were so severe that all redheads were “considered imposters and cheats.” (Ibid) There may have been the superstition, also, that red hair was a product of a conception occurring during a woman’s menstrual period. This sinful act, for the sexual act outside of the specific purpose of procreation was thought to be sinful, was considered to have marked the child for life. “Generally speaking, physical characteristics involving the color red are hardly ever good ” (83).

In addition, the Miller’s nostrils are “black as they are wide” (Chaucer 18, “blake were and wide,” Benson 32), which may be only a disparaging personal description, but the notions of black as a color associated with human beings were complicated in medieval times. Still the superstition persisted against things of the night, and the takeover of the idea of black being a heavenly color had not yet occurred. In many instances in medieval verse “black is the colour attributed to the devil and to fiends” (Heather, II, 215).

So far, in two lines, Chaucer has been able to create two demonic references to the Miller just within his personal description. The running joke among medieval villagers, no doubt based at least partly in fact, was that millers were thieves, and therefore the drawing of a parallel between the Miller and the devil was not only apt but funny. His description as burly, like a pig (and therefore greedy and overfed,) with hair porcine in texture and devilish in color, with a wide nose (a short or broad nose could “betray an amorous nature,” Brewer 44, as does the nature of his tale) is so thick with meaning already that the Miller hardly seems to need further explication. He is greedy; he is probably amorous, and possibly amorous in a way outside of the accepted mores. He is like the devil, perhaps in the sense of true evil, or, depending on how he interacts with the other pilgrims, only with a sense of mischief. He has been established as being outside the norm, with his red hair (a possible holdover prejudice against either the native Celts or the invading Danes), and his black nostrils have completed the facial picture not just of ugliness, but also a including a suggestion of the breath of the infernal regions.

The Miller’s “thombe of gold” (Benson 32) was a direct reference, of course, to his cheating ways on the scale with his customers’ grain and flour. Millers were proverbially thought of as thieves, (Langdon 244) and the reference to “golde” – not only a metal but a color – meant that his thumb was heavy indeed. It is also a suggestion of his inhumanity, for if a part of his body could be other than flesh, he was less than human and not as worthy of respect or sympathy as a true human being. Gold and red are often spoken of together in medieval verse (Heather, IV, 322) and the parallel with his red hair (which, of course, is really orange, or red-gold) could be continued here. Or, it could be that he is so enamored of profit, in the form of stolen grain or flour or in gold itself that his thumb has become made of it.

The Miller’s “whit cote and a blew hood” (Benson 32) are more problematic. White was almost always associated in the Middle Ages with purity and holiness, so his white coat belies the Miller’s nature. The whiteness of the soul after being shriven (Heather, III, 266) was an important image in medieval verse, and therefore it’s hard to say what Chaucer was trying to describe, if anything, by giving the Miller a white coat. Perhaps this was in reference to a real miller he had known, who wore such a coat. It was eminently impractical color (as well as being somewhat expensive, for fabric bleaching was a difficult process during medieval times) for a journey, for the pilgrim were sure to get dirty and dusty on an unpaved road on horseback. Perhaps, though there is little evidence for this, it was a symbol of his impracticality and his willingness to show off his ill-gotten gains in sartorial display.

The “blew hode” is slightly easier to understand, but still contradictory. It could be associated with the planet Venus (Heather, IV, 326,) which would be yet another reference to the Miller’s bawdy tale and his supposed sexual incontinence. However, blue is also explained by Chaucer as being the “color of constancy in love” (in reference to Canace’s blue velvet mew in “The Squire’s Tale,” Chaucer 500). This is somewhat confusing. Perhaps it is either a validation or a repudiation of the virtue of the Miller’s own wife. He says:

I have a wife, God knows, as well as you

Yet not for all the oxen in my plough

Would I engage to take it on me now

To think myself a cuckold just because…

I’m pretty sure I’m not and never was.

One shouldn’t be too inquisitive in life

Either about God’s secrets or one’s wife (Chaucer 88)

So perhaps the blue hood he wears, if it has any color symbolism at all, is a token of his belief in (or benign neglect of) the faithfulness of his wife. It could, in reverse, be a mocking of his inattention to his own wife’s sexual infidelities, and therefore be a substitute for cuckold’s horns, too. The blue cloth over the head of the Virgin was proverbial in statues and painting of this time (and up to the present day in many representations of her,) so the Miller’s blue hood could either be his own tribute to the Virgin Mary (which seems unlikely,) or possibly another of Chaucer’s jokes about the lack of chastity on the Miller’s or the Miller’s wife’s part.

This array of attributes and colors serves to enlighten, amuse, and even confuse the reader. It would have been much simpler if the Miller were arrayed in green, (the color of “lightness in love” Chaucer 500). Being dressed in “dressed in green…was [a] trait of the devil in medieval lore.” (Howard 62) But Chaucer doesn’t make things so simple for us, and instead piles on the allusions and the contradictions to make us stop and consider not only the Miller’s words, but the sense behind his words (such as his possibly too-eager protests of his wife’s faithfulness.) It is without a doubt that, from these few terms, Chaucer creates a lively and completely human image in our minds of the teller of The Miller’s Tale.

The first mention of a color term in the Tale itself is in reference to the young lover Nicholas’s cupboard or linen press being “covered with a faldyng reed” (Benson 68.) Faldyng was a kind of coarse cloth, presumably cheap and easy to obtain even for a poor student like Nicholas. The coarseness of the fabric is perhaps a marker for the coarseness, and, indeed, even the deviousness of Nicholas and his sexual and revenge-taking escapes. The picture is quickly made of a man who was at the same time concerned with luxury and appearances (red or scarlet was associated with luxury cloth, especially in the earlier Middle Ages when it was really the only luxury fabric available) but only able, either through his own low and gaudy tastes, or by constraints of poverty, to make his room look like a cheap bordello.

Red, too, was associated with the color of flame (Heather, IV, 320) which could be a parallel either to the devil (as in the reading of the Miller’s appearance, above) or to the flame of sexual desire. But, again, there is contradiction in this color. Red had, for many years, been associated with royalty and honor (Heather, ibid) and “Scarlet and crimson were especially coveted, as these costly red dyestuffs were extracted from snails and worms that were difficult to obtain” (Pleij 6.) This was a fashionable color, and the red hue of Nicholas’s cupboard-covering was perhaps chosen by him to help draw in young women. The character of Nicholas “Of deerne love he koude and of solas” (Benson 68, “And making love in secret was his talent” Chaucer 89) certainly supports the idea of a young man who would choose his clothing and apartment furnishings based on what he thought would get him the most mileage sexually with the young women of his acquaintance.

Chaucer was so able to create a persona for a character in just a few lines that it seems that color was part of his scheme for bringing up possible attributes for characters by means of personal description. Red was “For centuries…thought to be the exact opposite of white” (Pleij 17) rather than black. If this thought still held sway in Chaucer’s time (and there is no evidence directly from the text, but it is a possibility) then Nicholas’s red cloth in his room was like a red flag (or a red light in a prostitute’s window, or the red cloth thrown over a lamp in a prostitute’s room) announcing his sexual willingness and less-than-scrupulous morals.

Professor Sherbo argues the idea that the choices of words in Chaucer were not about poetic diction, but were simply the words used in everyday prose. For, as Dr. Johnson said, “…before Dryden’s time there was ‘no poetical diction: no system of words at once refined from the grossness of domestic use and free from the harshness of terms appropriated to particular arts.” One could argue against this chronological division, for Shakespeare wrote “incarnadine” for red (Macbeth Act II ii,) but from this idea we may suggest that Chaucer’s motivation in selection of colors were more about the symbolism of the color than any kind of “elegances or flowers of speech.” (Sherbo 1) Since:

Chaucer’s poetry is almost entirely innocent of poetic diction, which is quite understandable. As far back as 1913 Havens wrote “in proportion as the subjects of poems draw near to those of ordinary conversation the language and style grow conversational, and … ‘poetic diction’ is employed only in passages which it is desirable to have as different as possible from prose. (Sherbo 44)

If this is true, and the conversational rather than formal tone of the Miller’s tale (it is referred to as a “cherles tale” Benson 67, a churl being a low-class person) fits with this idea, then the selection of color terms was not based on aesthetic, aural, or musical bases. Words might have been chosen to fit within the meter (and Chaucer’s color terms are short and easy to rhyme and fit into a line — reed, barred, whit, col-blak, blew – as opposed to later poetic Latinisms, incarnadine, striation, achromatic, nigrous, or cerulean, for example) but were not chosen, at least not primarily, to create an audible effect. Therefore, it can be argued that the choice of colors was based, firstly, on how they fit into the story, and, secondly, on the symbolism that those colors signified.

Continuing on to the description of the fair Alison, Chaucer uses a further wealth of color terms. Immediately Chaucer tells us that her girdle was of “striped silk” (Chaucer 90). Stripes, or parti-colored cloth, while both expensive and showy (as was silk), could also be considered a sign of her deviance. “When a painter dressed a figure in hose of one leg red and the other leg yellow, he was telling the viewer he was a dubious character” (Pleij 73). While we are not told the actual colors of the stripes on Alison’s belt, it could be that this was Chaucer’s first way of marking her, visually, as gaudy, showy, perhaps over-willing to spend her rich old husband’s money on fine things, and, even, possessing her upcoming sexual deviance. Women who chose to wear multi-colored clothing were religiously chastised. “The thirteenth-century hellfire preacher Berthold of Regensburg railed against women who let themselves be carried away by fashionable colors. He noticed that they no longer contented themselves with the infinite variety of colors which God had placed at the disposal of nature – an abundant supply of brown, red, blue, white, green, yellow, and black. No, the latest in female pride involved combining these colors in dots and stripes…” (Pleij 75)

The notion that it was female pride, and not just personal taste or even sexual advertisement, fits with the character of Alison. She is so proud that she not only think that she can fool her husband (which she and Nicholas accomplish easily, ) but she feels no remorse for her deceitful acts and infidelity, and does nothing to save her husband from the insults of the townspeople at the end of the tale (Chaucer 105-106). Her striped girdle is a signal of her willingness to violate her marriage vows and take pride in deceiving her husband. A damning garment, indeed.

“White as morning milk” was the apron of Alison, as was her smock. A white apron soon gets dirty, so this was probably an expression of Alison’s vanity, as was the more expensive white cloth a marker of her willingness to spend her husband’s money. White was considered “the most suitable color for women” (Pleij 68) for it was the color of heaven and sinlessness, so perhaps Alison wore these white garments in order to give herself a false aura of respectability. But the embroidery on the smock is black (Chaucer 90), showing not only Alison’s ability to mix colors (something frowned upon as against God’s nature) but her willingness to mitigate the whiteness of her garment with the blackness of the devil. The embroidery, too, in silk, was a considered a vanity, no doubt, and was of sufficient unusualness for Chaucer to comment on it. One may imagine that Alison thought she was either creating a fashion, or leading it within her village. This, too, would have been considered immodest, and perhaps an indicator of future sinfulness.

These gorgeous garments (a striped belt, a white apron, a silk smock with black embroidery) do not end here. There are “tapes and ribbons” on her “milky mutch” (cap, Chaucer 90) to match this ensemble. Her white headdress was possibly required, as noted above, for colors of headdresses other than white were considered to be the height of vanity and sexual display. But Alison doesn’t stop at a white cap – she gilds the lily with tapes and ribbons, as a young woman might choose to do. It’s interesting that Chaucer would include this detail. Whether it was sheer whimsy, however, or another indicator of Alison’s wantonness is difficult to say.

The next color term applied to Alison is in regard to her eyebrows. “And she had plucked her eyebrows into bows,/Slenderly arched they were, and black as sloes.” (Chaucer 90) A sloe, of course, is a small dark fruit used for flavoring alcohol, and hardly one of the classical comparisons for female beauty. Chaucer injects a bit of humor and satire here, for lower-class beauty of Alison would not be classified and catalogued in the same way as the upper-class beauty listed, say, in The Book of the Duchess. “…[The description of Alison] is, indeed, partly a rhetorical joke, the point of which is the absurdity of describing a carpenter’s wife, a wanton village wench, as if she were a heroine, a noble and ideal beauty. There is probably also some element of social satire here. Chaucer is writing for a courtly audience. He is a snob,” (Brewer 42)

The black eyebrows on a blonde (we are assuming that she is blonde, as it is not stated, though it seems likely. We know only that her “complexion had a brighter tint/Than a new florin from the Royal Mint,” [Ibid] Also, “Her hue is bright gold as any lady of romance, but it is compared to a new-minted ‘noble’, a gold coin worth 6s. 8d. {What is Alison’s price?}” Brewer 42) were not considered strange. In fact, it was considered the ideal. “In the Middle Ages, blondes were supposed to have brown eyes and black — or at the very least dark brown – eyebrows. This combination, so strange to us nowadays, paved the way for hair-dyeing methods that enabled all those dark-eyed brunettes to achieve the ideal with relative ease.” (Pleij 50) The reference to the florin of the Royal Mint could be a suggestion that Alison dyed her naturally dark hair to a blonder color. This was not an uncommon practice. Possibly, her hair color was “bought” by gold. The other possibility of that reference, too, certainly, is that her love or virtue were cheap and easily bought by gold or other favors.

Incidentally, the prejudice against blue eyes (considering the generally good associations attached to that color) even in the case of natural blondes has a number of possible origins. The one that seems to have the most age and credence was the prejudice in antiquity against invaders from the North, who were naturally more blue-eyed than the majority of Mediterranean peoples. (Ibid) Though we do not know the color of Alison’s eyes, it seems likely her eyes were dark as her eyebrows were, and Alison was possibly held up as an example of the medieval ideal of beauty (albeit a lower-class and humorous one.)

The next possible color term is “latoun” (Benson 69), or the brass-like alloy on her leather purse, which was “tasseled with silk and silver droplets” (Chaucer 90). These metallic colors adorning the purse attached to her striped girdle add another element to her already gaudy ensemble, and were probably expensive. White-silver, although this color was more connected to heraldry (argent) than the metallic colors described by Chaucer, are confusingly associated with a child’s early life (up to age twelve) when children were considered the most innocent and angelic. (Pleij 15) It seems unlikely that this association would apply to the eighteen-year-old sexually mature and wanton Alison, so it seems much more plausible that Chaucer, here, with the mention within six lines of three metallic colors (brass, silver, and gold) with the addition of “pearled” to simply be a catalogue of the richness with which this young lady is dressed.

The next flurry of color terms comes when Alison goes to church, and sees the lovelorn Absalon. Significantly, Alison “…enticed/The colour to her face to make her mark:” (Chaucer 92). Either Alison was pinching her face to make her cheeks red and make her more attractive (red faces were often given to fools in Terence’s comedies, Pleij 50, and “blushing red faces… were thought to be indicative of lunacy, aggression, slyness, and betrayal. 82) In that one tiny detail the whole of the story is revealed. Alison is indeed aggressive sexually, sly in the extreme, and quite willing to betray not only sexually but socially her elderly husband. It is clear that blushing cheeks, while attractive, were not something to be found on a trustworthy woman.

Moving on to the description of the parish clerk Absalon, another riot of color attributes are given to him:

His hair was all in golden curls and shone:

Just like a fan it strutted outwards, starting

To left and right from an accomplished parting

Ruddy his face, his eyes as grey as goose,

His shoes cut out in tracery, as in use

In old St. Paul’s. The hose upon his feed

Showed scarlet through, and all his clothes were neat

And proper. In a jacket of light blue,

Flounced at the waist and tagged with laces too.

He went, and wore a surplice just as gay

And white as any blossom on the spray.

Six color terms are applied to him: golden, ruddy, grey, scarlet, light blue, and white, (in Middle English: gold, reed, greye, rede, light waget, and whit, Benson 69-70) in only eleven lines. It would be difficult to draw a single or even two conclusions from this array of shades, assuming that the colors are meant to have any symbolic meaning other than description. “There is no such thing as an unequivocal system of medieval color symbolism, unless the term is used to refer to medieval man’s desperate and contradictory attempts to cast colors in the role of meaningful signs planted on the narrow path to eternal salvation.” There is no one defining idea that could include the symbolism of gold, red, scarlet, light blue, grey, and white. This array of Absalon’s color attributes seems to have less meaning, directly, than either the description of the Miller in the Prologue, or of Alison at the beginning of the tale.

The clerk’s golden curls would have been proverbial for a wanton youthful lover, and might have looked incongruous in his drab role of clerk. Being ruddy of face has been described as amorous, foolish, and deceitful, which indeed Absalon is. The fact that his eyes are “grey as a goose” rather than a gander was perhaps a reference to his effeminacy. Since grey eyes were considered the height of female beauty (such as in the Prioress,) perhaps grey eyes were considered too girlish in a man’s face. It is a rather washed-out color, perhaps meaning that Absalon lacked vitality or virility. (He is later on described as “squeamish” and seems to be a bit of a dandy.) This is supported by the description of the young man’s fancy shoes, which were the latest fashion. His scarlet hose could simply be the example of the dandy Absalon trying to wear the latest and most bold fashions, or could be a mocking of his office. Since scarlet was one of the colors of the curtains in the tabernacle of the Temple in Exodus, (Pleij 15) and was often used for priestly vestments (such as at Pentecost) the mockery of a sacred color worn by a young clerk setting out specifically to commit adultery would probably not be lost on Chaucer’s readers.

Modern fashion does not include a taste for the combination of red or scarlet with light blue (the light blue of Absalon’s jacket.) To our eyes this would seem to be a garishly mismatched set of garments, perhaps even clown-like. This is definitely how Absalon is portrayed, for he is the victim of the jokes of Alison and Nicholas in this Tale (though Nicholas gets some comeuppance from him in the end, too). Medieval fashion allowed the combination of light blue and scarlet, however, so this may be an entirely modern reading. Suffice it to say, however, that Absalon, like many a young lover who fancies himself successful with women, took great pains with his appearance and clothing. His white surplice would have fit well in church, and was perhaps his one concession to the solemnity of his position.

The next color term occurs when Nicholas is roused from his “sleep” or trance by the superstitious and alarmed carpenter. “Drive away night-hags, white Pater-noster” the carpenter says as part of the prayer he says over Nicholas when he tries to wake him. A Pater-noster was the “Our Father” prayer in Latin, and the white Pater-noster was a kind of sing-song warding-off charm disguised as a prayer. There are several variations, including the “Now I lay me down to sleep” poem said by children. This poem, a “sort of magic-working parody of an older Latin prayer.” (Carrington 132) This would have only served to make the Carpenter look foolish, for he is trying to ward off evil spirits from the pretending Nicholas, who is using this ploy as part of his plan to dupe the Carpenter. This sort of magical superstition was made fun of in the lower classes, and Chaucer is not immune to it.

Later, when Nicholas is instructing John the carpenter on how to rig up the kneading tubs for the coming inundation, he compares their escape by flotation as “merrily, I undertake, as any lily-white duck behind her drake.” (Chaucer 99) This is a direct allusion to Nicholas’s and Alison’s treachery, because the two of them are anything but “lily-white”. Also, the picture of a duck “behind her drake” is a pointer to what Alison, the duck, is doing behind her husband’s (the drake’s) back with Nicholas.

When Absalon makes his fatal kissing error at the window, Chaucer is careful to point out that the night is “black as coal.” (Chaucer 103) This is, of course, a necessary plot device to make sure that Absalon mistakes Alison’s bottom for her face due to lack of light. (The Middle English contains not one but two references to earthy black substances, pitch and coal: “Derk was the night as pich, or as the cole/” Benson 75) However, it should be noted, that, while also fitting the meter, the comparisons that Chaucer drew were to two grimy earth-substances (not, for example, “black as obsidian” or “black as a beetle.”) This is an earthy, lower-class story, and Chaucer takes care to choose his similes accordingly.

Finally, when Absalon returns to take his revenge on Nicholas and Alison, he significantly offers Alison a “golden ring” (Chaucer 104). This is a continuation of the theme of Alison as being a woman of easy virtue, bordering, perhaps, on prostitution. Absalon, in his contempt, makes it clear that her virtue (whether she is being faithless to her husband, or faithless to Absalon) can be bought by such a trinket, hearkening back to the description of her metallic finery at the beginning of the tale. In fact, instead of a golden ring, Nicholas, attempting to “improve upon the jape” (Ibid) receives a painful burn from a hot coulter, and the parallel between gold/red and flame is continued.

Color symbolism can mean many things, and not all of these interpretations, of course, were either intended by Chaucer or perceived or discovered by his readers. The fact that Chaucer uses so many rich and varied color terms, and finds them so important in descriptions of human beings, however, indicates that they must have had some significance. For example, instead of just telling us that the Miller was a cheat, disliked by the villagers, and of a lecherous nature, Chaucer layers on poetic allusions to his attributes through color terms, all of which were subject to interpretation. It could be viewed that Chaucer did less direct judgment on his creations, and rather left the suggestions of value judgments, partially revealed or incited by color terminology, up to his readers. It is an extremely rich field of study, and this one poem of 667 lines contains many color terms and myriad possible interpretations. There may be many more color terminology connotations which are not yet understood by literary historians, and there may have been further subtleties, ironies, and jokes provided by Chaucer’s rich color-filled descriptions of his characters and their attributes.

Works Cited

Benson, Larry D., Gen. Ed. The Riverside Chaucer. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987.

Brewer, Derek. Tradition and Innovation in Chaucer. London: Macmillan Press, 1982.

Carrington, Evelyn. “A Note on the White Paternoster.” The Folk-lore Record. Vol. 2, 1879, pp 127-134.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Trans. Neville Coghill. London: Penguin Books, 2003.

Davis, Norman, et al. A Chaucer Glossary. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1979. (Consulted only, not directly quoted)

Heather, P. J. “Color Symbolism.” Parts II-IV. Folklore. Vol. 60, Nos. 1-3. March – September, 1949.

Howard, Donald R. Chaucer: His Life, His Works, His World. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1987.

Kerker, Milton. Charles Dickens, Fagin, and Riah. Best of Jewish Theological Seminary Magazine, 2003. 29 June, 2007. http://www.jtsa.edu/about/communications/pubs/bestof/dickens.shtml

Langdon, John. Mills in the Medieval Economy: England 1300-1540. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Pleij, Herman. Colors Demonic and Divine: Shades of Meaning in the Middle Ages and After. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

Sherbo, Arthur. English Poetic Diction from Chaucer to Wordsworth. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press, 1975.

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