Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

download word file, 5 pages 0.0

Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales are a series of entertaining stories told along a religious pilgrimage from London to Canterbury. Each of the tales are related by a different member of the traveling group and represents their views on the society they live in. One pilgrim tells most of the tales about another, and either praises them or accuses them as a fraud or a sinner. These tales are actually much more than just entertaining stories told to pass the time during the trip. The Canterbury Tales are Chaucer's social commentary of his time. However, these tales are truly universal. Even though they where written over six centuries ago, they still have a relevant message for our current society.

The "Knight's Tale" represents many different things; courtly love, the ideal woman, honour among friends, and how fate can move in such a strange way.

Courtly love denotes a knight prepared to go to any lengths to win the affection of his desired woman.

Palamon and Arcite, the two knights from Thebes, demonstrate this throughout the entire tale. They even go as far as dissolving their sworn friendship and duelling each other on several occasions, during which they could have killed one another. However they do keep a certain respect for each other throughout; it would be much easier to hire a murderer to kill the other and thereby eliminate the competition. Only their respect for each other and their sense of honour keeps them from doing this. "Honour among friends" can be hard to find in such an uncivilized time, but Arcite truly demonstrates this when he actually suggests Emily marry Palamon, instead of letting jealousy take control and forbidding their marriage on his death bed. Courtly love and honour among friends is difficult to find in our current...