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)
[…] 'Doghter, stynt thyn hevynesse.
Among the goddes hye it is affermed,
And by eterne word writen and confermed,
Thou shalt ben wedded unto oon of tho
That han for thee so muchel care and wo.'
Diana's answer to Emily's prayer confirms what we've suspected all along, which is that the gods know what's going to happen. Diana's reference to an "eterne word" suggests that an even higher power than the gods is at work here. This could be seen as some version of fate, or the "Firste Moevere" Theseus refers to in his final speech.
'The Firste Moevere of the cause above
Whan he first made the faire cheyne of love,
Greet was th'effect, and heigh was his entente;
Wel wiste he why, and what therof he mente.'
Throughout "The Knight's Tale," many characters have complained about their fates. Here, Theseus advises everyone to take comfort, because God has a plan. Even though we might not know what it all means, Theseus implies, we can trust that God knows "why, and what therof he mente." His speech is thus the perfect capstone to all the hand-wringing about fate that's occurred in the tale.
'What maketh this, but Juppiter the kyng,
That is prince and cause of alle thyng
Convertynge al unto his propre welle
From which it is deryved, sooth to telle,
And heer-agayns no creature on lyve
Of no degree availleth for to stryve.'
Theseus believes death is simply God converting the living back to the essence from which they were derived. Death is a part of life. It's mankind's fate, which he has no business trying to avoid. This fatalism may be comforting in a way, but it also raises the question of just how much someone ought to accept responsibility for the events of his life.