The Perfection Of The Knight In The General Prologue Of

1128 WordsMar 2, 20175 Pages
The perfection of the knight in The General Prologue of the Canterbury Tales represents an idealized form of chivalry. Through exhaustive conquest and moderate temperament, the knight embodies chivalric qualities that elevate him to an idealized state. Moreover, the knight is temperamentally moderate despite his martial successes and his merit is unmatched by any other knight. Being in such high prestige, the knight has inherent discretional rights in deciding what is or isn’t true knighthood. After Chaucer establishes the knight as perfect he contrasts him with the squire and yeoman. Now, since the knight is the pure embodiment of knighthood, the squire and the yeoman act as impure forms representing two separate excesses that undermine…show more content…
Or, maybe his merit and moderate humility (I.73) won the narrators respect. Regardless, his respect is well established in The General Prologue, line 67: “and evermoore he hadde a sovereyn prys;” and resonates throughout the entire Canterbury Tales. Even the miller’s requiting of the knight’s tale is tactful, despite his drunkenness. Rather than attacking the knight ad hominem Robyn directs his attack on the “Knyghtes tale.” As identified above, Robyn’s tact here is admirable; despite his intoxication he refrains from attacking the knight personally. Essentially, the knight’s air renders him beyond reproach. Along with the knight’s favorable portrait, the placement of the squire and yeoman after the knight accentuates his perfection. Also, if the narrators order of remembrance when writing the prologue is to be considered, the squire and yeoman’s connection to the knight is part of a greater thematic chunk; for, after the yeoman, Chaucer portrays the first nun and particularly highlights her simplicity and coyness—marking a complete thematic change from the outwardly martial yeoman to the “shy”, pretentious prioress. Thus, the opposites but up to accentuate each other. Let us now evaluate the squire and yeoman more closely to determine which details make them each a type of foil to the knight. The squire is the knight’s immediate offspring (I.79) and is described as moderately tall, exceptionally agile, and greatly strong (I.82-83). However, the squire’s physical
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