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The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer

Competition Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

'But for as muche thou art a worthy knyght,
And wilnest to darreyne hire by bataille,
Have heer my trouthe; tomorwe I wol nat faille
Withoute wityng of any oother wight
That heere I wol be founden as a knyght,
And brygen harneys right ynough for thee,
And ches the beste, and leef the worste for me.
And mete and drynke this nyght wol I brynge
Ynough for thee, and clothes for thy beddynge;
And if so be that thou my lady wynne,
And sle me in this wode ther I am inne,
thow mayst wel have thy lady as for me.'
(750-761)

Here Arcite proposes that he and Palamon duel to determine who "wins" Emily. As a good, chivalrous knight, it's important to Arcite that the competition be absolutely fair.  For this reason, he offers to bring Palamon not only weapons, but also provisions and bedding so that he can strengthen himself with as good a meal and night's sleep as Arcite can have. As Theseus later points out, the irony of this is that the "prize," Emily, knows nothing about their plan.

Quote #8

Everich of you shal brynge an hundred knyghtes
Armed for lystes up at alle rightes,
Al redy to darreyne hire by bataille.
(993-995)

Theseus proposes, as Arcite did, that he and Palamon settle their dispute by fighting. Unlike Arcite's propsed duel, however, this fight will take place in public, in the sight of everyone and, most importantly, in the sight of Theseus, who will be its judge.

Quote #9

Upon my trouthe, and as I am a knyght,
That wheither of yow bothe that hath myght,
This is to seyn, that wheither he, or thow
May with his hundred, as I spak of now,
Sleen his contrarie, or out of lystes dryve,
Thanne shal I yeve Emelya to wyve
To whom that Fortune yeveth so fair a grace.
(997-1003)

Another important difference betweeen the duel Arcite proposed and the joust Theseus now orders is that the outcome of the battle will depend upon more than Palamon and Arcite's skill at swordplay. In theory, it will also depend upon their ability to marshal a strong, skillfull company of men and to lead it. You can see how, from Theseus's perspective, this joust is a better way for him to choose a potential ally than an individual fight between Palamon and Arcite. It tests not only their skills as leaders, but also the quality of military power they can marshal in a limited timeframe.

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