The Canterbury Tales

Love in The Knight's Tale

In Geoffrey Chaucer's famous satirical poem The Canterbury Tales, the author describes a pilgrimage which commences in the town of Southwark and continues to the burial sight of Saint Thomas Becket. The pilgrims are quite an assorted lot, comprised of members of all classes of the social spectrum in late-medieval England. At the head of the group is the "verray, parfit, gentil knight" (Chaucer GP 72) who has just returned from a Crusades battle and is now prepared to embark on yet another noble expedition. This ideal Knight is chosen to tell the first tale which will set the tone for the rest of the journey. Aptly, he chooses to relay a story of courtly romance in which two young knights vie for the affection of the same fair maiden. Chaucer's construction of love in The Knight's Tale proves to be much different from the modern notion of love in our society and probably also different from any love experienced by the other pilgrims on the journey. The Knight presents love in a very superficial manner and portrays it as a threat to the order and regulation which he deems extremely important in traditional society.

First, Chaucer describes the plight of Arcite and Palamon, two young knights who are locked up...

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