The Canterbury Tales
Chaucer's Knight - Dichotomy and Contradiction
In the General Prologue of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, the first character portrait presented is that of the Knight. Though the knights of Chaucer's time were commonly perceived as upstanding, moral, Christian leaders in society, underlying Chaucer-the-Pilgrim's largely complimentary and respectful portrayal of the Knight is Chaucer-the-Poet's slightly sarcastic and accusatory version of the depiction. By comparing and contrasting these two representations of the Knight, the reader realizes that the Knight is a character of dichotomy and contradiction, neither wholly "good", nor wholly "bad".
While Chaucer-the-Pilgrim's portrayal of the Knight is one of a man with a high moral character, Chaucer-the-Poet subtly inserts hints that the Knight is not as respectable and honorable as he appears. Chaucer-the-Pilgrim relentlessly overpraises the Knight. He uses some form of the word "worthy" to describe him four times in the 36 lines of the Knight's portrait (in lines 43, 47, 50, 68). The reader is told that the Knight "loved chivalrye/ Trouthe and honour, freedom and curteisye" (45-46). He was also "evere honoured for his worthinesse" (50) and had...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 998 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7825 literature essays, 2194 sample college application essays, 333 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in