Canterbury Tales Is a Masterpiece of Literature Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2111 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

Canterbury Tales is a masterpiece of literature that is a reflection of English society during the 14th century. What happened was the author (Geoffrey Chaucer) wrote the work from the viewpoint of the 27 different individuals. They were on pilgrimage from: Southwark to the shrine of Thomas Becket at the Canterbury Cathedral. The host (whose name is Harry Bailey) proposes that everyone can entertain one another by: having a contest to see who can tell the best stories. The way the competition worked is each contestant told a total of four tales. Two were provided on the way to Canterbury, while the others were told on the way back. The winner of the contest would receive a free meal at Bailey's Tavern (courtesy of the other contests). This is significant, because it is showing how the Canterbury Tales was a one a kind work of literature. As, these different fables are: discussing the overall nature of the story teller. To fully understand this association requires: comparing the teller's accounts to their past events. In this case, we will be selecting the knight and referencing at least two different tales that were discussed. Once this occurs, it will provide the greatest insights as to the affiliation between: the character and the story that they are telling. This will give the reader a more precise understanding of English society during this time. ("Key Facts," 2011)

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TOPIC: Term Paper on Canterbury Tales Is a Masterpiece of Literature Assignment

The Knight's Tale is one large plot that is told over the course of four different tales. The story begins by discussing how in ancient Greece the Duke of Athens (named Theseus) has imprisoned two knights from Thebes (a rival city). These were individuals (named: Arcite and Palamon) who fall in love with Theseus' sister in law (Emelye) while in prison. During this time, the feelings that two men have for one another, will turn their friendship into a rivalry (that resulted in both them hating each other). As, their feelings of love for Emelye would continue to build, leading to many instances of intense standoffs between the two. Then, once both men are released from prison, they would find their way back to Athens to win Emelye's love. ("Plot Overview," 2011)

In the case of Arcite, he sneaks back into Athens as part of his disguise. This is because, he is paroled from prison with the understanding that he will never return to Athens. Despite this agreement, his feelings for Emelye overwhelmed him and he returns by working as a page in Emeyle's chambers. While, Palamon escapes from prison and immediately goes to Athens to find Emeyle. It is at this point that the situation becomes very heated, as a dual erupts between the two. ("Plot Overview," 2011)

Theseus witnesses this event and intervenes, by setting up a tournament between: both men and their allies. The winner would receive Emeyle as their reward. During the tournament, Arcite wins but he is mortally wounded (from being thrown off of his horse). After he dies, Palamon marries Emeyle. This is significant, because it shows how the knight is reflecting upon a number of different events that could have occurred during his lifetime. ("Plot Overview," 2011)

A few of the most notable that could specifically apply to the story teller include: the underlying amounts of violence, the complexities of various experiences / personalities and the consequences that this could have on life itself. These different elements are important, because they are illustrating the various challenges and issues that the story teller would wrestle with over the course of their lifetime.

When you examine the underlying amounts of violence, it is obvious that the knight is reflecting upon various events that occurred during his life. Where, he more than likely has seen tremendous amounts of violence. Part of the reason for this, is because the knight has severed on: a number of different missions that would involve engaging in various questionable actions. As this individual could have been some kind of mercenary, who has thoughts of what happened in the past (that are continually haunting him). (Pearsal, 1985, pp. 58 -- 117) This is important, because it is showing how these different images are continually affecting the knight's thinking.

A good example of this can be seen in the second Knights Tale where Chaucer writes, "The conqueror seems to have been fully appraised of the strength which the new government might derive from the Clergy more cloefully attached to himself by a community of interefts than the native English were likely to be." (Chaucer, 2008, pp 11 -- 15) This is important, because this passage is showing how knight believes that the violence that he experienced in past is still taking place. As, some kind of transformation is occurring in the struggle between: the church and the state. To illustrate these different views he uses the Arcite and Palamon, to highlight how they are friends who have turned against each other for self fish reasons. In this aspect, one could argue that the knight is equating how he became what he was based on loftier purposes. However, as time went by various financial and personal incentives warped his views of who he was. This is the point that his beliefs changed (leading him becoming a mercenary). This is significant, because it showing how: the overall amounts of violence and experiences that had in the past, shaped the kind of thoughts that he would have in the future. ("The Knight's Tale Part 1 -- 2," 2011)

The complexities of various experiences are: when the knight is discussing how the events that occurred in his past are often complicated. In some cases, they never turned out the way that they had planned. This is because there were a number of unknowns that the knight was dealing with. During the course of his life, he began his experiences with the best of intentions. Yet, they turn against him or someone that he knows. In this aspect, he is equating love and passion that you are feeling about: someone or something to the emotions of betrayal. (Pearsal, 1985, pp. 58 -- 117)

A good example of this can be seen in the fourth tale, after the dual has come to end. Despite Arcite winning the battle he is wounded. Throughout his life he has always practiced certain elements of chivalry. During the battle (which Palamon loses) Arcite agrees to let Palamon live, in spite of the fact that they are mortal enemies. However, once Arcite is injured, is the point that Palamon will run in and claim the ultimate prize for himself. In this case, one could argue that this is reflection of sense of frustration that knight was feeling about: the code of chivalry and when it was practiced. As, he believed in it when he was younger, then as he was experienced similar disappointments is when these views were changed. This is significant, because one can clearly draw a direct parallel to the ideas of the story, with their actual experiences. ("The Knight's Tale Part 3 -- 4," 2011)

The consequences that these events would have on life itself are: illustrating how there is a number of unexpected results that could shape the final outcome. In this aspect, the knight is discussing how unplanned events in the past had an effect upon what took place in the future. Where, he would become involved in: various military campaigns and built them upon a belief system, in the long-term effects that they were having in achieving these objectives. However, over the course of time a shift occurred. What was happening; is that the desired outcome was not being achieved. Instead, unintended consequences were occurring that were having negative long-term effects on: the mission and the impact of their actions. This is challenging, because it meant that the actions that were taken by the knights were creating even more chaos. (Pearsal, 1985, pp. 58 -- 117)

To illustrate this point the story teller uses: the second, third and fourth Knight's Tale. In each of these different stories he is providing: a background of the conflict and resentment that the different sides have for each other. This lead to strong beliefs about the how they are morally correct in the actions that they are taking. At the same time, both sides think that if they can remain focused they will be successful in achieving these different objectives. Once it appears as if clear solution to the problem has been found, is when an unexpected turn of events could take place. This will reshape how everyone is looking at the situation.

In this case, the struggle between Arcite and Palamon, will have an impact upon their views by: further adding to the underlying amounts of frustrations they are feeling. Once this conflict became so severe that it appeared as if a final solution was at hand is when a change took place. As, Arcite won: the battle and was going to claim his prize.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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