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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 1979-2108 Summary

  • Theseus is really bent out of shape over Arcite's death. The only person who can console him is Egeus, Theseus's dad. Egeus basically tells him that everyone dies, and that death brings an end to worldly suffering.
  • Egeus also reminds Theseus that it's his duty to comfort the people of Athens.
  • Theseus makes plans for Arcite's funeral. He decides that Arcite's sepulcher (a tomb or burial chamber) will be in the grove of trees where he and Palamon first battled over Emily.
  • The Duke's men build a fancy bier for Arcite.
  • Palamon arrives at the funeral with an unkempt beard and matted, ash-strewn hair, and dressed in black clothes covered with tears. Emily, however, is the saddest of all.
  • Arcite's body is carried through the streets on the bier.
  • The funeral is very elaborate, and the narrator offer many details. We gather that lots of trees were cut down to build Arcite's funeral fire (displacing any number of birds, animals, and tree-spirits), and that lots of incense is involved. Arcite's body is surrounded by jewels and riches.
  • Emily, who carried a torch to the funeral, starts the fire, as is the custom. Then she faints.
  • Men throw jewels, shields, weapons, wine, milk, and blood into the fire.
  • When Arcite's body is burned and the funeral is over, everyone returns to Athens.
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