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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 Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Rules and Order

"The Knight's Tale" shows what happens when the rules of two different systems – chivalry and courtly love – come into conflict with one another. Palamon and Arcite have sworn a knightly oath t...

Love

From the second Palamon and Arcite lay eyes on the lovely Emily, they are pierced to the heart by a love so intense that it literally makes them ill. Yeah, they seem like drama queens, but their be...

Friendship

Arcite and Palamon have sworn an oath of brotherhood to one another, promising to defend one another's interests in everything. Yet the first we hear of this oath is when it's in danger of dissolvi...

Death

In "The Knight's Tale," death is closely connected to love on multiple levels. Like love, says Theseus, death is the great equalizer. It's an experience that every human – whether rich or poor, f...

Suffering

In "The Knight's Tale," suffering takes multiple forms, both physical and mental. Palamon and Arcite suffer a lot from their love for Emily. Their love afflicts them like an illness, or an arrow t...

Competition

Palamon and Arcite are rivals for the love of the same woman.  The knights decide to fight a duel to determine who gets her. Yet when Duke Theseus stumbles upon the dueling knights, he declare...

Fate and Free Will

All of the characters in "The Knight's Tale" believe that larger forces are at work behind everything that happens to them, deciding their destinies in love and life, and determining the time and c...

Strength and Skill

Palamon and Arcite have to decide who gets Emily in armed combat, which means that the better fighter gets the girl. Or does it? See, Palamon and Arcite are both equally strong knights who are able...

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