What A Story Reveals About The Story Teller

2059 words - 8 pages

Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales from the view of a pilgrim journeying with many other travelers who all had tales to tell. I believe that the stories told by the characters in Chaucer's book gives us insight into the individual spinning the tale as well as Chaucer as the inventor of these characters and author of their stories. There are three main characters whose stories I will be using as examples: The Knight's Tale, The Miller's Tale, and The Wife of Bath's Tale.

The knight told a tale of love, bravery, chivalry, justice, romance, and adventure. His story included two cousins and sworn brothers, Palamon and Arcite, who were both enraptured by the love of one woman, Emily. Emily was related to king Theseus who had the two friends imprisoned in a tower. It was from this tower that the two knights spotted the female embodiment of beauty and goodness. Palamon and Arcite each decided he could not live without her love and would die to have it. After a long while, the two meet up and are about to fight to the death for the love of Emily when Theseus comes upon them. He decides that these two former friends and prisoners will have a duel wherewith it will be decided who may win Emily's hand. Arcite and Palamon each pray to a different god to grant his victory. Arcite wins, but he dies before getting to claim Emily as his wife. She is later married to Palamon.

What does this fantastic story tell us about the knight's character and beliefs? This tale gives us insight into the Knight's sense of romance, passion, courage, loyalty and justice or fortune. Firstly, it shows us his ideal of one true, romantic love. He is virtuous and passionate, especially in his love-life. There was only one woman to be won, and neither of the knight's hearts strayed from their professed passion for her. They waited, loving her from a tower when she did not even know they existed. Secondly, it tells us his idea of bravery and devotion. Palamon and Arcite were not willing to give up Emily to the other, although they had been great friends. The devotion lies not in their friendship, but in their love of Emily. Likewise, the knight himself had left all to nobly fight for his cause; and still had such devotion to his faith to join the pilgrimage. "With smudges where his armour had left mark; Just home from service, he had joined our ranks To do his pilgrimage and render thanks" (The Canterbury Tales, p.5). Thirdly, it shows us the knight's ideas of fortune and justice. I believe the knight was optimistic in a practical sense. He viewed Fortune as a beneficial force of justice which is reflected in his "happy ending" of the tale. Although he had a realistic note of sadness, the overall outcome was good. All the characters prayed to different gods, and all got what they asked for. Although Arcite wins Emily, he dies before he can claim her and she is later married to Palamon. Lastly, the tale was constructed with such length and...

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