The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
Arrayed was this god, as he took keep,
As he was whan that Argus took his sleep;
And seyde hym thus, 'To Atthenes shaltou wende,
Ther is thee shapen of thy wo and ende.'
Mercury tells Arcite that the end of his suffering is "shapen." By this, he means that it is already decided – shaped, or constructed. Arcite's fate waits for him in Athens.
'Love hath his firy dart so brennyngly
Ystiked thurgh my trewe careful herte,
That shapen was my deeth erst than my sherte.'
Arcite says that his death, or succumbing to love, was "shapen," or constructed, before his "sherte," by which he means swaddling-shirt. What he's saying is that his love for Emily was fore-ordained by Love before he was even born.
'And forthy, I yow putte in this degree;
That ech of yow shal have his destynee
As hym is shape, and herkneth in what wyse.'
Theseus precedes his plan for Arcite and Palamon's joust by saying that it's a way for both men to achieve his destiny. What's interesting about this is that Theseus plays such a big role in shaping it. But rather than just choosing one of the men to marry Emily, he decides they should fight it out: he must truly believe that a higher power is better qualified than he is to decide all their fates.