Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is a collection of twenty-four stories told by various people who are going on a religious pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral from London, England (Kane 44). Prior to the actual tales, however, Chaucer offers the reader a glimpse of fourteenth century life by way of the General Prologue. In this prologue, Chaucer introduces all of the characters who are involved in this journey and who will tell the tales (Gardner 108). Among the characters included in this introductory section is the Knight, the Merchant, and the Pardoner.
Chaucer begins with a knight. Chaucer's Knight was everything that a knight should be and usually was not -- honorable, courteous to all classes, brave in war and very conscientious about the religious significance of a pilgrimage. The knight had fine horses, but he was not lavishly dressed (Owens 62). He had on a shirt which was stained where is armor had left a mark.
That is, the knight is just home from service and is in a hurry to go on his pilgrimage that he has not even paused before beginning it to change his clothes (Howard 90).
The Knight is the perfect and courteous man who loved truth, freedom, chivalry, and honor. He is truly a distinguished man (Kane 22). He had ridden into battle in both Christian and heathen lands and in every instance served his king well. Even though he has had a very successful and busy career, he is extremely humble. The Knight never boasted his actions nor bored his listeners with his feats (Owens 63).
Clearly, the Knight possesses an outstanding character. Chaucer gives to the knight one of the more flattering descriptions in the General Prologue. The Knight can do no wrong: he is an outstanding warrior who has fought for...