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The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer

Suffering Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

'Have mercy on oure wo and oure distresse,
Some drope of piteee thurgh thy gentillesse
Upon us wrecched wommen lat thou falle;
For certes, lord, ther is noon of alle,
That she ne hath been a duchesse or a queene.
Now we be caytyves, as it is wel seene.'
(61-66)

The eldest of the lamenting women Theseus meets on his way back from Scythia describes the root of their distress as a fall from nobility to wretchedness. Those who once were duchesses or queens have now become "caytyves," or wretched creatures. This is not the last time that a quick, unexpected change in position will be the cause of suffering.

Quote #2

'But I was hurt right now thurgh-out myn ye
Into myn herte, that wol my bane be.
The fairnesse of that lady, that I see
Yond in the gardyn romen to and fro,
Is cause of al my criyng and my wo.'
(238-242)

Love hurts, as the old Nazareth song goes.  In Palamon's case, the pain it causes travels right from his eye to his heart. Palamon blames Emily's "fairnesse" (her beauty) for his suffering. Later Palamon and Arcite will blame Emily herself, despite the fact that she has never even heard of them.

Quote #3

He wepeth, wayleth, crieth pitously,
To sleen hymself he waiteth prively.
He seyde, Allas that day that he was born!
'Now is my prisoun worse than biforn;
Now is me shape eternally to dwelle
Nat in purgatorie, but in helle.'
(353-358)

Arcite compares his forced separation from Emily to dwelling in Hell, whereas his imprisonment, during which he at least could see his beloved, was nothing more than Purgatory. This passage draws attention to the way in which love can create a prison for the lover.  Just like a prison, the desire to be near the beloved "traps" the lover in a particular place.

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