Theme Of Love In The Canterbury Tales

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The idea of love in marriage is a reoccurring theme within British literature, and Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is no exception. The Canterbury Tales consists of a multitude of short stories which offers a peek into what the social culture of England in the Middle Ages may have been like. Two stories, in particular, are “The Millers Tale” and “The Knights Tale,” which are two contrasting stories that juxtaposes each other’s stance on love in marriage. From the very moment Palamon and Arcite lay eyes on Emily in “The Knights Tale,” they are struck with a love so intense that they feel sick to their stomachs. Although this may seem like a typical cliche, this behavior is also fairly typical within the courtly love genre. Palamon and Arcite view Emily as a goddess, even going as far as to potentially break the knight’s oath. Soon after, Duke Theseus enters the scene and questions Palamon and Arcite’s intense love. Theseus believes that love has the powerful ability to bend people’s heart at will. This is evident between Palamon and Arcite as they are willing to break the oath which they are sworn into to fulfill their desires. Ironically, Theseus himself had committed silly acts for the name of love and believes that “the wretch I am, now weeping, wailing thus,” (“The Knights Tale” 931). “The Knights Tale” has a seemingly conflicting stance on love in that it paints an ennobling portrayal of courtly love in a degrading way. For example, it is evident that Arcite and Palamon
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