The Canterbury Tales

Knight's Tale: Idealism of the Aristocrats

Despite its glorified accounts of the chivalrous lives of gentlemen, the Knights Tale proves to be more than a tragically romantic saga with a happy ending. For beneath this guise lies an exploration into the trifling world of the days aristocratic class. Here, where physical substance is superseded by appearance, reality gives way to disillusioned canon and emotion is sacrificed for honor. Naïve idealism emerges as the dominant characteristic of the seemingly flawless knight and we, as the reader, are asked to discern the effect of this fanciful quality on the story as a whole.

To further investigate this argument one basic premise must be established as the groundwork: Theseus is the character with whom the knight most closely associates himself. Upholding "trouthe and honour" in their conquests of battle and noble rule, both epitomize the sacred rite of "chivalrie". In the Knights Tale, nearly all the attributes with which he is praised in the Prologue are directly used in correlation with the duke. Thus, the language and actions of Theseus throughout the story can be superimposed onto the knight. These connections, along with the selective narration of the knight, allow the reader to observe the essence...

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