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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 4, Lines 1625-1804 Summary

  • It's feasting time in Athens. Everyone is celebrating, excited about the upcoming tournament. People are betting on which of the Theban knights will perform best in battle.
  • On the morning of the tournament day, all of the knights and people of Athens come to the palace to hear Theseus's rules for the competition. Here are the rules:
  • The knights shouldn't kill each other. Fighting to the death is ungentlemanly.
  • The knights on horses can only use spears. Knights on foot can use whatever weapons they want.
  • The battle ends when one of the leaders is captured.
  • Basically, it's like a bunch of knights playing capture the flag.
  • Theseus wishes the knights luck, then finds his seats in the stadium, along with Hippolyta and Emily.
  • Now, let the battle begin!
  • Team Arcite rides through the westward gate of Mars. At the same time, Team Palamon rides through the gate of Venus.
  • Both sides look evenly matched.
  • The knights all take their positions, trumpets sounds, and the fighting begins. 
  • Spears are launched, bones break, blood flows, horses fall and crush their riders, wounded men are captured.
  • The battle is so long and vicious that Theseus has to call time out multiple times so that the knights can eat, drink, and rest.
  • Again the narrator compares Arcite to a wild tiger and Palamon to a bloodthirsty lion.
  • Finally the battle comes to an end when King Emetreus (fighting on Arcite's side) stabs Palamon while he grapples with Arcite. Palamon, still fighting, is captured.
  • King Lycurgus tries to rescue Palamon, but is overpowered.
  • Theseus announces that the battle is over, and that Arcite will marry Emily.

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