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The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer

Fate and Free Will Quotes Page 3

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

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.'
(531-534)

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.

Quote #8

'Love hath his firy dart so brennyngly
Ystiked thurgh my trewe careful herte,
That shapen was my deeth erst than my sherte.'
(706-708)

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.

Quote #9

'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.'
(983-985)

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.

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