The Knight's Tale in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
The Knight's Tale is one of the twenty-two completed Canterbury Tales by the celebrated English Writer Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400). The Canterbury Tales are a collection of 120 stories that Chaucer began writing in 1386, and planned to complete during his lifetime. Each of the tales features a large range of characters in a great variety of medieval plots, along with interesting dramatic interaction.
The Knight's Tale itself was completed sometime between 1386 and 1400. It is found in its entirety in the Ellesmere manuscript, one of the earliest of Chaucer's remaining manuscripts. The Ellesmere features the story, as well as an elaborately done pictorial representation of The Knight's Tale done in woodcarvings. The story line of this tale is based on Italian writer Boccaccio's Teseida written in 1381 or 1382. Chaucer's Knight's tale is a chivalric romance about love and war. These characteristics are presented as two possible sources of human affliction yet are celebrated in a very honoring, ceremonious way. In the tale, two knights are our main characters. Their story embodies the chivalric principles of honor and especially courtly love. In desperation they both decide they must either die or gain the heart of the beautiful maiden Emelye. After years, they eventually meet to fight for her in a duel. This was a common method of winning a lady in Chaucer's age due to the ideals introduced by former Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine of France (1122-1204). The romantic tradition of the work stresses passion and honor and their importance in successful courtly love.
Although The Knights Tale is known primarily for its concentration on courtly love, the work also contains many important traits of the chivalric age. It "features a perfect mixture of honor, love, chivalry and adventure." The Knight's tale emphasizes tournaments and duels, and they are both described in great detail. It also illuminates the ceremonious ways of the aristocracy. Also the most basic chivalric ideals of the knight are present: "There is an emphasis on honor and proper conduct throughout the tale, along with form, ritual, and a code of behavior."
The most debated and strange part of the work are the specific usage of the Gods. In a time where the church (Catholic and Christian) was a strong force in all aspects of life, Chaucer chose to have his tale include several of the Greek Gods and Goddesses with no mention of his societies' contemporary God. The two knights pray to the Gods, and they play an intricate role in deciding their outcome, as they decide...