The Knight Quotes in The Canterbury Tales

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

'The Canterbury Tales' by Geoffrey Chaucer is a collection of stories written in Middle English that follow many pilgrims on a journey. The Knight is a prominent character, and in this lesson we'll learn more about him.

Background

The Knight in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is a chivalrous man who seems to fulfill the principles of a Medieval English knight: chivalry, courtesy, generosity, respect, and truth. The Knight is memorable not only to the reader, but to the narrator as well. The Knight is described as the most noble of the pilgrims and his son, the Squire, is dutiful and a courteous lover. Moreover, the Knight demonstrates his commitment to his land by fighting many battles in the name of the king and religion. There's just something inspiring about the Knight from the narrator's perspective. In this lesson, we will look at many quotes from and about the Knight to learn more about this Canterbury Tales character.

The Knight from Canterbury Tales
The Knight from Canterbury Tales

The Knight's Description

The description of the Knight is given in the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales and is much more uplifting than any other character description. The narrator describes the Knight in the following quote:

'A KNYGHT ther was, and that a worthy man,

That fro the tyme that he first bigan

To riden out, he loved chivalrie,

Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie.

Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,

And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre…'

Here the narrator describes the Knight as upholding noble qualities such as chivalry, truth, honor, courtesy, and generosity. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with him. He is said to have a gentle temper, that his attitude is as 'meeke as is a mayde', and that he is kind in his words.

The Knight is also very humble in dress. He doesn't show his social status or boast about his position. The narrator points out that, 'His hors were goode, but he was nat gay. /Of fustian he wered a gypon…', which means that his horses are well taken care of, but the Knight himself wears a simple tunic.

The Knight's Military Prowess

Not only does the narrator describe the Knight's personality and manners with the utmost respect, the narrator also speaks of the Knight's prestigious and honorable military career. He says,

'At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene,

And foughten for oure feith at Tramyssene

In lystes thries, and ay slayn his foo.

This ilke worthy knyght hadde been also

Somtyme with the lord of Palatye

Agayn another hethen in Turkye.

And everemoore he hadde a sovereyn prys;'

Here the narrator reveals that the Knight's military career is esteemed, with many battles won in the name of England's religious faith. Moreover, the Knight is so noble that he has won fifteen battles and slain many foes.

The Knight Through The Knight's Tale

The Knight's Tale is about love, courtesy, and the code of knights. Through this tale, we learn quite a bit about who the Knight truly is. Let's look at a few quotes from his story.

On Love

The Knight's Tale is a classic tale of love and brotherhood. For example, the Knight tells of the Arcita's feelings toward a woman as love at first sight; he also talks about the woman in the story as something more than human because she captivates the lover so deeply. He says,

'I noot wher she be womman or goddesse,

But Venus is it, soothly as I gesse.

And therwithal, on knees doun he fil,

And seyde, 'Venus, if it be thy wil,

Yow in this gardyn thus to transfigure

Bifore me, sorweful wrecched creature,

Out of this prisoun helpe that we may scapen!''

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