The Canterbury Tales

A Knightly Satire

Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale,” written apart from but included in his unfinished anthology <i>The Canterbury Tales</i>, is considered one of his greatest works. It could be at once a number of things: a dark meditation on providence, a parody of the Chivalric stories that happened to be gaining in popularity at the time of its publication, or a work perhaps heavily influenced by Boethius’s <i>Consolation of Philosophy</i>. Chaucer could be called many things, but a writer with simple intent he clearly was not. If one draws from Chaucer’s other Tales as well as analyses of his works, one may conclude that the poet had insight into his generation and surroundings and often made a point of weaving social commentary and critique into his stories. With “Knight’s Tale,” the author turns his skeptical eye toward valued sentiments of the time -- not only in popular Chivalric literature, but in the everyday culture that Chaucer was a part of. He observed the social institutions and pointed out their weaknesses for all to see. This commentary notably occurs in Chaucer’s depictions of chivalry, providence, and, through the fascinating character of Emelye, of women. By tackling all of these subjects with a...

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