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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 Part 1, Lines 329-469 Summary

  • Palamon and Arcite remain intensely mad at each other, but the narrator just doesn't have time to give us all the details.
  • More time passes. Then, one day, a childhood friend of Theseus, named Perotheus, comes to visit Athens.
  • Theseus and Perotheus are serious BFFs, but Perotheus is also friends with Arcite, whom he knows from Thebes. So when Perotheus asks Theseus to release Arcite from prison, the Duke agrees.
  • The catch is that Arcite has to promise to leave Athens ASAP and never return. If Theseus catches him on Athenian soil, he'll get an axe to the throat.
  • Arcite agrees and heads home to Thebes.
  • But what about Emily? Good question. Arcite weeps and wails and moans and groans and feels super sorry for himself. He curses that day he was born and that he ever met Perotheus. He's sure that being banished from Athens is worse than being in prison. The tower prison was actually paradise. He's even jealous of Palamon, because Palamon can still lay eyes on the beautiful Emily.
  • He curses fate. He feels like he was an idiot to wish himself out of prison, because now look what's happened. Arcite wails on and on in a super emo "watch out what you wish for" sort of speech.
  • Meanwhile in prison, Palamon thinks that Arcite is the lucky one. He's sure that his brother knight is now free to go after the girl. He's positive that Arcite is raising an army in Thebes to come fight for Emily.
  • Just like Arcite, Palamon is all emo and feeling very sorry for himself. He's also burning with jealousy.
  • He rages against the gods and the unfairness of life. He complains that the gods think as little of humans as they do of sheep. But unlike animals, humans have to follow laws instead of just following their desires.
  • The summer passes, and both the prisoner and the free man feel sorrier and sorrier for themselves.
  • Our narrator, the Knight, mulls over who has it worse, Palamon or Arcite. One is in prison but gets to look upon Emily, the other is free but is banned from ever looking upon his love. The narrator even asks our opinion. What do you think?

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