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Canteburry Tales: Chivalry

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 10:04 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 70 
  • Words: 413
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What is this Chivalry?

In the medieval period, chivalry and courtly love were common beliefs that knights followed. Chivalrous knights were reverent, worshipful, and respectful to women. In Chaucer stories, The Wife of Bath and A Knights Tale, the knights were the main characters. Though, when the knight in The Wife of Bath’s tale is compared with those in The Knight’s Tale, it can be seen that not all knight’s fully understood chivalry. The two knights in The Knights Tale, followed the code of chivalry, but the knight in The Wife of Bath’s tale completed several acts that went against the code.

In The Knight’s Tale, Palamon and Arcite were knights captured after being wounded in battle and sentenced to life imprisonment. One day they saw Emily, and both immediately fell in love with her. They wanted nothing more than to be able to serve or marry her. Both were determined to win her hand, and though the two knights fought for a long time over Emily, they were still prime examples of courtly love towards women of the time. During the tale, not once did they ever disrespect her. When Arcite is mortally wounded he acts truly chivalrous by asking Emily to consider Palamon for a husband. However, The Wife of Bath’s tale is the complete opposite.

The knight in The Wife of Bath’s tale didn’t embody the ideas of chivalry. First, he attacked and raped a girl, when he was riding along the river. Then instead of death, which was usually used as punishment for such a crime, his fate was handed to the Queen. She challenged him to find out what women desire most. Yet even when he learned the answer, he still wasn’t courteous to the women. He tried to break his promise to the old woman, and even when following through, he treated her in an unkind manner. Although in the end, he seemed to understand how to be truly chivalrous and how women should be treated.

The portrayal of knights in Canterbury tales, showed the newfound chivalry, supposedly...


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