Essay about Canterbury Tales

Submitted By merblack
Words: 2516
Pages: 11

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer The tale starts at a small tavern in Southwark, a small town near London, England, where the narrator of this tale begins his journey with numerous pilgrims that are making their way to a shrine in Canterbury. Chaucer conducts various characters within the group that are so diverse and so different from one another, and this is what makes this tale so legendary. I really enjoyed the way that Chaucer made each individual so different, it was like being there and witnessing the pilgrimage first hand, he opened a window into the foreign, medieval world so that the reader gets to experience first-hand how the people were back then in those times. Between the courageous knight, the meddling pardoner, and many others, it makes the story worth reading and it keeps the reader entertained with all of the stories that the pilgrims have to tell. What makes the stories of these characters even better is the bet that the narrator makes with them, which is the one with the best story gets a free meal at Bailey’s tavern, paid by all of the others. The first tale, which is determined from a common draw, is the Knight’s tale. It is a story of love and loss as he speaks about two imprisoned knights from Thebes, Arcite and Palamon. These two prisoners fall in love with the duke of Athens, Theseus’, sister-in-law. The thought of them being on love with their enemies’ relative is absolutely forbidden, but they are persistent in their emotions and do not back down from the challenge. After eventually being freed, Arcite is banished from Athens, but this sentence does not seem to frighten or deter his pride because he ends up disguising himself and returning back to Athens to win the love of his life. To make matters even more interesting, Palamon ends up escaping from his imprisonment and arranges to fight Arcite for Emelye’s hand. Once they arrange this battle, Theseus hears word about it and decides to make things interesting. In return, he arranges a tournament between the two, promising the winner Emelye’s love. Unfortunately, like a tale once told by William Shakespeare, fate takes over as an unwelcome host. Arcite ends up winning the tournament, but in a sheer instance of unfortunate luck, falls of his horse and falls to his untimely death. With this happening, Palamon instead takes Emelye’s hand in marriage: “The two at once were joined in the grand/ And holy union that is known as marriage/ Before the council and the baronage. /And so amid much bliss and melody/ Has Palamon been wed to Emily” (Chaucer 3094-3098). While reading the knights tale, it in some ways reminded me of the story by Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliette were ill-fated lovers that were destined for doom. In this case, both knights were so infatuated by the love of Theseus’ sister-in-law, that they did not care about their personal well-being, they only cared for pride and reputation. In some ways, Romeo wanted to be with Juliette because he was drawn to her romantically, but in other ways I believe that it was just like the two knights in this tale, and that was because they each knew the love was forbidden. There is something about being in love with something forbidden that makes it so exciting, it makes it worth trying for and worth risking your life for. Did the two knights know Emelye’s personally? No. They did, however, see her and fall in love with her instantly, making them more in love with the fact that she was the duke’s sister-in-law, which happened to be the man that was currently imprisoning them and banishing them from anything, especially his sister-in-law’s hand in marriage.
The second tale that intrigued me the most was the tale of the wife of Bath’s. She speaks of marriage and her many thoughts on the roles of men and women that have made the lifelong commitment, and even explains that she believes it is wrong to think that one is just to marry once. Her tale is an interesting one of a knight under the…