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The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale Analysis

Literary Devices in The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

In the courtly love tradition (for more on which, see "In a Nutshell"), it was common for poets to speak of love in terms of physical pain, wounding, or illness. They get all dramatic about it. We...

Setting

Yes, "The Knight's Tale" is set in Athens and Thebes, but don't forget that it's Athens and Thebes from a medieval English point of view. This isn't like reading Sophocles's plays. That's why so m...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator plays a big role in "The Knight's Tale," constantly making his presence felt. He doesn't do this in the same way as most of Chaucer's narrators. Unlike the Man of Law, for example, he...

Genre

"The Knight's Tale" is a work of fiction set in a time period much earlier than the one in which it's written. (The story is told in medieval England, but it's about ancient Greece.) This makes it...

Tone

The tone of "The Knight's Tale" is epic, meaning high and grand, because many things are described in it as the best/greatest/most they could possibly be. Theseus, for example, is such a great conq...

Writing Style

(See the discussion of iambic pentameter in the "Writing Style" section of our guide to the General Prologue & Frame Story.)"The Knight's Tale" is written in a very "high" style, which just mea...

What's Up With the Title?

As a way of showing respect to the highest-ranking member of the pilgrimage, the Host asks the Knight to be the first to tell a tale. The tale is exactly what we'd expect from a nobleman like the K...

What's Up With the Ending?

The ending of "The Knight's Tale" is really, really deep. After calling Palamon back to Athens and assembling his counsel, Duke Theseus lectures everybody, but especially Palamon and Emily, about h...

Tough-o-Meter

First of all, we're talking about how challenging this tale is in Middle English. If you get yourself a good Modern English translation, things will be a bit easier. Still, the narrator of "The Kni...

Plot Analysis

In a battle with Thebes, Theseus, lord of Athens, captures two sworn-brother knights, Palamon and Arcite. He imprisons them in a tower near his garden, where his sister-in-law Emily decides to walk...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

While locked in a prison adjoining Theseus's garden, Palamon and Arcite both fall in love with Theseus's sister-in-law, Emily.Languishing in prison, Palamon and Arcite are hopeless. They think they...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

On his way home from Thebes, Duke Theseus of Athens meets a group of lamenting women who beg him to take revenge on King Creon for refusing to allow them to bury their husbands' bodies. Theseus doe...

Trivia

About 100 years after Chaucer wrote "The Knight's Tale," Shakespeare co-authored a play based on it called The Two Noble Kinsmen, with a man named John Fletcher (source).Theseus shows up in Shakesp...

Steaminess Rating

The whole point of courtly love, the "system" of love in which Palamon and Arcite express their devotion to Emily, is that it's supposed to elevate love beyond the physical, to something higher and...

Allusions

King Creon of Thebes (80)Venus (245, 1046, 1060&ff)Mars (1049, 1111&ff)Diana (1054, 1193&ff)Narcissus (1083)King Solomon (1084)Hercules (1085)Medea (1086)Circes (1086)Turnus (1087)Cresu...

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