The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale
Death Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
'Syn that I may nat seen you, Emelye,
I nam but deed, ther nys no remedye.'
Arcite follows his claim that he will die if he can't see Emily with a performance of a living death. Refusing food, drink, and sleep, he seems to want to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
'What is mankynde moore unto you holde
Than is the sheep that rouketh in the folde?
For slayn is man right as another beest
And whan a beest is deed, he hath no peyne,
But man after his deeth moot wepe and pleyne.'
Palamon complains to God that he treats beasts better than men, because beasts have no afterlife and don't have to worry about what comes after their death. As we can see in both Arcite and Palamon's speeches about their separation from Emily, death and all it implies about the life of man are subjects of great concern to the characters in the tale. Theseus will address these concerns in his speech about death.
'And over al this, to sleen me outrely,
Love hath his firy dart so brennyngly
Ystiked thurgh my trewe careful herte,
That shapen was my deeth erst than my sherte.
Ye sleen me with youre eyen, Emelye!
Ye been the cause wherfore that I dye.'
Arcite implies here that his lovesickness, and metaphorical death, was preordained by Love. The connection between love and death is enforced not only by the language of courtly love that equates the two, but also because of the feeling of powerlessness over one's fate that both provoke in the characters.