Chivalry And Courtly Love In The Knight's Tale

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In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer tells “The Knight’s Tale”, a story of the two knights Palamon and Arcite who fall deeply in love with Princess Emily, a member of Theseus’ kingdom. Even though both knights are imprisoned within a tower, each finds a way to escape jail and try to win Emily. Ultimately, this leads to a duel between the two knights for which the prize is the hand of Emily. Chaucer uses the knights to reflect the very male-oriented time period through the strong chivalry and courtly love displayed towards Emily, when in reality, he was trying to expose the flaws of the chivalric code, which led to the deadly feud between two fellow knights. Essentially, Chaucer is holding up a magnifying glass to what people of the…show more content…
To start, the two royal knights were acting like children fighting over the same girl. At one point, Palamon claims that he “loved her first, and told you [Arcite] of my woe” (1146). This reaction of the ‘I saw it first’ variety is one that is expected from children who are fighting over something, rather than that of two stately knights. Using honorable methods means that both knights should have worked to settle their quarrel in a civil manner, rather than resorting to childish behavior. In addition, both are caught by Theseus arguing over Emily, something that Theseus believes is punishable by death. As a knight, it is expected that you follow the law, so being caught committing a crime is known to be very bad. Although Theseus did not sentence them to death, he does tell them they need to “bring a hundred knights, / Armed for the lists, prepared to fight, / Ready to lay claim to her in battle.” (1851-1853). Therefore, their non-chivalric behavior led them to duel each other over a woman. Andreas Capellanus defined the eighteenth rule of love as “Good character is the one real requirement for worthiness of love.” By engaging in criminal behavior, they violated this important rule and thus upended the values of chivalric love.
Courtly love is a ritual designed to be performed over a series of years, yet in “The Knight’s Tale”,
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