The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale Suffering Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
Then saugh I firste the dirke ymaginyng
The shepne brennynge with the blake smoke,
The tresoun of the mordrynge in the bedde,
The open were, with woundes al bibledde;
The sleere of hymself yet saugh I ther,
His herte-blood hath bathed al his heer.
(1137, 1142-1144, 1147-1148)
In this passage the narrator "sees" all of the suffering caused by Mars, god of war. In contrast to the suffering and woe of Palamon and Arcite, here we see the very physical and detailed suffering caused by violence: incinerations, murders, open wounds, suicides bathed in their own blood. The contrast between this and the abstract, intellectualized suffering of Palamon and Arcite is striking.
So was is shewed in that portreituree,
As is depeynted in the sterres above
Who shal be slayn or elles deed for love.
By placing the murders and deaths "for love" in Mars's temple of horrors, the tale connects love and suffering in a graphic and physical way. This description of Mars's temple is the first depiction we see of real, physical suffering in the tale. Connecting this physical suffering to love makes the suffering caused by love seem more real and physical than it has thus far.
The helmes they tohewen and toshrede,
Out brest the blood, with stiernes stremes rede,
With myghty maces the bones they tobreste.
He thurgh the thikkeste of the throng gan threste;
Ther stomblen steedes strong, and doun gooth al;
He rolleth under foot as dooth a bal,
He foyneth on his feet with his trounchoun,
And he hym hurtleth with his hors adoun.
He thurgh his body is hurt and sithen ytake,
maugree his heed, and broght unto the stake.
This graphic description of the battle between Palamon and Arcite's forces is curious in the way it refuses to assign actions to any particular person. Helmets get shredded. Blood runs. "He" gets stampeded on "as dooth a bal," but no one person does or suffers any of these things. The effect of this language is to make the battle seem like something that just sort of happens, with no particular person or reason behind it.