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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 1805-1978 Summary

  • Hold on a minute, though. Didn't Saturn promise Venus that Palamon would marry Emily? What gives?
  • Venus is so mad that she cries, but Saturn tells her to calm down. Mars wanted Arcite to win the battle, and he has won. But Saturn will grant Venus's wish too. Just wait and see.
  • Back in the stadium, Arcite, the champion, takes off his helmet to show the audience his face.  Emily smiles down at him. He's still mounted on his horse.
  • Just then, the god Pluto sends an earthquake, at Saturn's request, through the stadium. Arcite is thrown off his horse. He lands smack on his head.
  • Though he looks dead, he's still alive. He's carried to Theseus's palace. Everyone is hopeful that Arcite will recover.
  • The good news is that, while many knights were wounded in the battle, no one died.
  • The knights and the people of Athens decide to continue celebrating. All of the knights are good sports and don't hold grudges against each other. Theseus also commands that they all be friends, and stand beside each other as brother knights.
  • After three days of feasting, the two hundred knights leave Athens and head home.
  • But all is not well. Arcite isn't healing. In fact, he's swelling, his wounds are infected, and he's getting blood clots. None of the doctors are able to cure him.
  • Arcite knows he's dying, so he sends for Emily and Palamon.
  • After telling Emily how much he loves her, he goes on to say that he's been jealously feuding with Palamon for years over her. With his last breath, though, he swears to Emily that when it comes to truth, honor, knighthood, wisdom, humility, position, lineage, and a generous spirit, no one is as worthy of Emily's love as Palamon.
  • Basically, Arcite putting his jealousy behind him and wants Emily to marry Palamon.
  • Then Arcite's eyes glaze over, he turns cold, and he dies.
  • Emily shrieks, Palamon howls, and Theseus carries the fainting Emily away from the body.
  • Everyone in Athens mourns Arcite. The narrator compares it to how Troy mourned the loss of their Prince Hector during the Trojan War. The people are so upset that they scratch their faces and tear out their hair. Yikes.

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