Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Emily's Strength in Knight's Tale

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Emily's Strength in Chaucer's The Knight's Tale

This passeth yeer by yeer and day by day, Till it fill ones, in a morwe of May, that Emelye, that fairer was to sene Than is the lylie upon his stalke grene, And fressher than the May with floures newe - For with the rose colour stroof hire hewe, I noot which was the fyner of hem two- (1033-1039)

Thus is Emily, the least often discussed of the four central characters in the Knight's Tale, described upon her first important entrance in the tale, when the knights initially view her in all of her loveliness. This description of Emily fits in with the common criticism that she is more a
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This convention, however, is not necessarily of a negative nature. All of the imagery and language that envelops Emily is completely unparalleled within any of the portraits in the Prologue (Cooper 110); and, though she is a thoroughly two-dimensional character, it is through this limited perspective that Chaucer has tried so hard to create (Donaldson 48) that we realize Emily's true purpose. This purpose is to serve as a rhetorical device to allow the reader to come to a full realization of the ideals behind the tale. If she had any sort of individualistic characterization, it would completely detract from her place in the story (Cooper 110). She would fail to accomplish the main goal of the Knight's Tale; to inform the readers of ideas and ideals of the world, rather than specific people, characters or incidents (Donaldson 49).

True, Emily does not really have a mind of her own. According to one critic, she is even completely without any chance to leave an imprint on or change in any way the world around her (Spearing 43). She still, however has a good deal of power. After all, she is able to force two "brothers" into a state of total rivalry before they even speak to her (Spearing 43). Once she has served this purpose, she does recede into the background for a lengthy period of time; but, without her, the remainder of the plot would never occur. The happy ending, which teaches the reader the Knight's belief in chivalric life and love, would
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