The Canterbury Tales

Canterbury Tales: The Power of Lust

Canterbury Tales: The Power of Lust

Seven deadly sins. Eight tales. In Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer offers insight into human characteristics and actions. Of the seven deadly sins, lust remains a reoccurring characteristic in several tales. As romance and marriage are prominent motifs throughout the work, many of the tales address sexual desires and portray characters searching to satisfy their cravings with quarrels (in "The Knight's Tale"), deceit (in "The Miller") or strong will and infidelity (in "The Merchant"). Though these stories have different plots, each offer a common message regarding human nature and lust.

Making its debut in "The Knight's Tale", lust overtakes Arcite and Palamon, two men locked in jail who desire Emily, a woman that may not even know that they exist. Throughout the tale, the two men describe Emily as "goddess" and "Venus", revering her physical features and revealing the lust both men have for this woman (242-243). Chaucer conveys the stupidity of the two cousins as they fight childishly for a woman they know only from appearance; one claims, "I loved her first" (297).

Several years later, the power of lust reunites...

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