The Knight’s Tale
“The Knight’s Tale” is a tale within the framework of the “Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer. The poem is a romance that is adapted from Broccaccio’s “Teseida.” The plot of the poem involves he rivalry between two knights, Palamon and Arcite, who fall in love with Emelye, the kinswoman of Theseus. The pace of the story is deliberately slow and majestic. Random references to generous periods of time make it chronologically slow (Cooper 87). The tale seems to go on forever and the suspense of it builds for a long time until finally it comes to an end. Chaucer incorporates a theme of romance and uses many characterizations to tell the “Knight’s Tale.”
Chaucer characterizes the knight in several different ways. He is characterized as a maker and as a part of the pilgrimage frame. Chaucer describes the knight with increasing contradiction. The knight goes from a warrior to a peacemaker. The Knight is first seen as a Christian warrior. He has been in many important battles and has been a part of many important functions. The knight can be seen at a glance as a universal father with a respectful son (Bloom 123). The squire is like his father in that he displays all the qualities needed for knighthood. He is very chivalrous and displays all of the qualities that go along with it.
By taking a closer look, one may see the knight as a good man. The knight shows this when he gladly welcomes the cut that designate him as the first teller. Later the knight comes to several people’s rescue. He saves the pardoner from humiliation, and he comes to the aid of everyone by interrupting the monk. “Chaucer materializes his knight for the reader from a distant, abstract, universal idea into real particularity, into a flesh and blood human being active and responsible in the world” (Roney 234). He does this by starting the knight far off and then bringing him closer and closer and finally showing him interacting with others.
In the overall framework of “The Canterbury Tales”, Chaucer uses the Knight and his tale at the beginning to complement the Parson and his tale and as retraction at the end. “The Knight’s Tale” fits into the overall framework in two ways. By placing “The Knight’s Tale” at the beginning, Chaucer puts forth a spectrum of the many, varied, human “weyes” of the world (Roney 233-241). Human beings with all different kinds of personalities and occupations are headed up by one of the noble class, the knight. The knight puts forth a model of gratitude, good will, prayers, penitence, and grace.
“The Knight’s Tale” is also one of the outer framing tales. In this context, “The Knight’s Tale” demonstrates two things. The first thing is the validity of many. What is meant by this is the existence in this world of more than one good, kind person, more than one legitimate way of thinking, and more than one use of valuable experience. The other thing that it demonstrates is the freedom of many to choose how and what to learn from their experiences (Roney 242-244). This means that the human minds are not consistent and are not controlled by natural appetites or providential direction. Overall, the knight’s tale shows that there are going to be all kinds of people learning many different lessons from all kinds of experiences. The knight demonstrates the good person learning the good lessons from the good experiences (Roney 248).
“The Knight’s Tale” carries with it a theme of romance. It has all of the characteristics of an English or French medieval romance. The Knight’s Tale is actually an adaptation of Broccaccio’s “Teseida.” Many parts of the poem resemble closely, if not exactly, “Teseida.” While “Teseida” claims to be an epic rather than a poem, “The Knight’s Tale” is only a poem (Nardo 113-115). It was really impossible for Chaucer to incorporate a twelve-book epic into his “Canterbury Tales.” Chaucer made “The Knight’s Tale” into an abbreviated, but altogether good replica of “Teseida.”
The characters in “The Knight’s Tale” are two knights who are cousins. They both fall in love with the same woman. Palamon and Arcite have had practically the same lives and goals up until their current situations. The opposition between