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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 2109-2250 Summary

  • A few years have passed since Arcite's death.
  • The parliament in Athens wants to make peace with Thebes, so Theseus sends for Palamon. Palamon doesn't know what's going on, but he arrives in Athens, still wearing black clothes and mourning for his cousin.
  • Theseus also sends for Emily.
  • When everyone is gathered, Theseus speaks about how death is inevitable and a part of God's plan for the world. He says that nothing in the world goes on forever. Oak trees die and rot, rivers dry up, rocks erode – eventually everything comes to an end.
  • The wise Duke goes on to say that all humans – young and old, rich and poor – must die. It does no one any good to fight against death. He says that death is Jupiter's decree (remember, Jupiter is the King of the gods). Instead of focusing on death, people should get on with living.
  • Theseus talks more about death, specifically how it is honorable for a man to die young, while he still has a strong reputation. (Sounds like he might be talking of Arcite, huh?) He goes on to say that if a man dies young and honorably, his friends should be glad – the man hasn't died of old age when his reputation has faded. Basically, Theseus is saying it's good to die in your prime.
  • Theseus finishes up by saying that Palamon and Emily should no longer mourn Arcite. He goes so far as to say that it offends Arcite's soul.
  • Theseus wraps up by saying that out of two sorrows, should be made perfect joy. He wants Emily to marry Palamon. Hopefully this will put an end to their mourning and also create peace between Athens and Thebes.
  • The two agree and are married. (Guess Venus got her wish after all.)
  • Palamon and Emily live happily ever after.
  • The end.
  • (Psst. If Theseus's big speech has left you scratching your head, check out our thoughts in "What's Up with the Ending?" See you there!)

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