The Knight's Tale
Meet the Author
The Knight tells the tale of Duke Theseus imprisoning two enemy knights Arcita and Palamon who were defending their nation Thebes. His main goal of this tale is to present the audience with the rhetorical question of which knight, Arcita or Palamon, is faced with the greater challenge in the endeavor for Emily’s hand in marriage. The Knight telling the tale significantly believes in the code of chivalry making him truthful, honorable, loyal, generous, and courteous. He had successfully fought in 15 battles proving his true commitment to the code of chivalry. The Knight is wise and honored amongst the kingdom for his worthiness. He believed that knights were truly good not evil. The Knight was the perfect gentle knight believing solely in Christianity going by any means necessary to defend the church. The knights steeds were good, but he was not truly happy. Throughout the story it is evident that the knight is ironic, romantic, and dramatic. He pays attention to detail by going into depth when he describes the temples dedicated to the greek gods. It can once again be obtained that he believes highly in the code of chivalry never straying from its principles.
And so the Story begins
Long ago in Ancient Greece, there was a duke named Theseus who ruled all of Athens. One evening as he was returning home with his wife Hippolyta and her younger sister Emily, they were stopped by four weeping women of Thebes who were mourning the death of their husbands. Infuriated that the lord of Thebes would not honor the wives with funeral rites, Theseus invaded Thebes and conquered the land.
Concluding the war, Theseus discovered two knights of Thebes lying on the battlefield. These knights, who happened to be cousins, were known as Arcita and Palamon. Theseus decided to heal the knights' injuries, but sent them to prison in Athens where they were to stay for the rest of their lives.
After a few days of imprisonment, Palamon noticed a girl in the garden as he looked through the prison window. It was the sweet, young, beautiful Emily, the Queen's younger sister, and Palamon instantly grew lovesick. When Arcita spotted Emily, he too grew lovesick.
Perotheus, friend to both Theseus and Arcita, pleaded for Arcita to be freed from prison. His wish was granted, however, Arcita was banned from Athens and forced to return to Thebes or else he would be beheaded. To Arcita, this punishment was worse than prison because he could no longer see the love of his life. In the meantime, Palamon, who was stuck in prison, was able to see Emily every day through the prison's window. However, that's all their relationship would ever be.
In his home in Thebes, Arcita suffered greatly from sorrow, heartache, and isolation and his appearance changed drastically to a character that reflected his melancholy behavior. One evening, Mercury came in his dreams and told him that he must return to Athens to win Emily's heart. The next morning, Arcita changed his name to Philostrates, put on a disguise, and returned to Athens.
While Arcita made his way back into Athens, Palamon was able to break free from his seven year imprisonment and flee the city. During his escape, Palamon hid within the bushes of a grove when he heard Arcita. Palamon stepped out of the bushes with hatred and declared that Arcita stop loving Emily or he must die. The two knights came to the conclusion that the following morning, they would meet in this same place and fight a fair battle. Whoever was victorious would win the right to Emily's love.
Arcita and Palamon were in the middle of their battle when Duke Theseus, Hippolyta, and Emily happened to pass by. Theseus stopped the fight and demanded that they both be killed. The women cried and pleaded for the knights to not be killed, so Theseus made a deal with them. He said that if Palamon and Arcita promise to not wage war on Athens, then Theseus would forgive and forget and let the two knights live. Theseus continued by stating that both knights were worthy of Emily's love, but only one could have her. Therefore, in a matter of fifty weeks, both knights would need to create an army of one hundred men and fight for her love.
In preparation for the big battle, Theseus built a stadium in which the fight would take place. On the outside of the stadium were three temples built for the gods Venus, Mars, and Diana. Right before the battle, Palamon went to the temple of Venus and requested that she make sure he won Emily's love. Also that morning, Emily went to the temple of Diana and pleaded to the goddess that she remain a virgin, although Diana made it clear that Emily must marry one of the two knights. In the meantime, Arcita made his way to Mars as he begged the god of war to make him victorious in battle.
The battle was a blood bath between the two knights and their armies, but Arcita was able to rise above the rest and defeat Palamon. This caused great sorrow for Venus as her knight lost. Therefore, while Arcita rode his horse around the stadium in victorious pride, Venus' father Saturn caused the earth to shake, making the horse go mad. Arcita was thrown from the horse and landed on his head with his chest crushed on his saddle bow.
It was only a matter of time before Artica would pass away, but before his death, he was able to say some last few words to his beloved Emily. He shared his true love for her, but also told Emily that if she were to ever marry again, that she should marry Palamon. Theseus truly believed that Artica was a worthy man and, therefore, planned a funeral for him in the grove where he first spotted the two knights fighting for their love for Emily. A few years later, Emily and Palamon still suffered from grief over Arcita's death, but Theseus was able to reassure them by requesting that the two mourners get married to rid of their grief. Out of respect, Emily and Palamon obeyed their lord. Over many years, the newlyweds fell happily in love as they lived with no jealousy or pain.
And they lived happily ever after
Irony at its finest
Love can change people. It can turn them against each other even those with the closest of bonds. Palamon and Arcita are cousins, sworn brothers, and yet their love for Emily came between them. The dramatic irony used in the Knight’s tale is Chaucer’s way of pointing out that life is unpredictable, unfair and comes with joys and sorrows. There is irony shown when Arcita is freed from the prison and yet Palamon is not. Both men are still unable to obtain Emily and yet they think the other is better off in their respective situations. Both men pray to different gods to ask for their help in winning Emily and yet Emily prays to another god to help her stay single until she finds true love.
It all connects back to Life
In the Canterbury Tales, two cousins, Palamon and Arcita, sacrifice their relationship over Emily. Palamon, who is stuck in jail, believes that Arcita has it better, though Arcita is banned from Athens after being freed from jail. Even though Palamon believes he suffers more, Arcita believes that Palamon has if better off because Palamon is able to see Emily, from a far, every day. The two are so focused on this one girl that they don’t see the good in their lives. This story relates to real life drama because many friendships are ruined over relationships. Many times friends will fight over one person and it turns into a matter of pride; each person does not want to give up the fight even if the matter they originally fought over is irrelevant. Many people could benefit from reading this tale because it shows that a relationship does not hold more value than a friendship does. The tale shows how a strong friendship can be ruined by the blindness of love. The main theme of this tale is the instability of life. In regards to real life situations, jealousy can corrupt one's life and lead to a life that is unstable.
Completed by Sarah Rogers, Tiara Bianco, Maggie Reid, Taylor Duquette, Lauren Doherty, and Isis Van Putten