The Knight’s Tale
By Geoffrey Chaucer
Romance Writer Analysis
By Melvin A Jovel
Quick Recap of Story- The knights are Jailed
The story of “The Knight’s tale” is about two
cousins who, had they not been found by the
pillagers they would of died of there wounds
from the battle that had just been lost by
Creon King of Thebes. After being found they
were both carried to Theseus by which he
immediately had them sent to Athens and
thrown in prison because he knew they were
of Royal Blood.
In Prison, Arcite and Palomon would spend
years behind bars and saw no hope of getting
out until one day Palomon as he was looking
out the window he saw a beautiful goddess
like woman, for which he immediately fell in
love with her.
The beautiful Emily
Emily was sister-in-law of Theseus and she
would from time to time go and wander in
the garden where Palomon and Arcite
could see from their prison cells. Palomon
was the first to declare his love for her and
Arcite too said he loved her, but Palomon
was angry and said “Thus you are
pledged to be my trusty friend, and now
you would falsely be about loving my lady,
whom I love and serve and ever shall until
my heart may die.” (1143-1146). Both
cousins knew that this love was going to
destroy them and cause a strong hate
between the two.
The battle that decides the destiny of
Theseus finds Palomon and Arcite battling it
out one day and sees the reason is because
of Emily. Theseus sets up a tournament
where Palomon and Arcite will battle it out
to the death and the one still alive will win
Emily’s love. In the end Arcite ends up
winning, but ends up getting badly wounded
and tells Theseus that it must be Palomon
who should take Emily’s hand. Palomon and
Emily end up together and lived a long,
Chaucer as a Romance Writer
Geoffrey Chaucer used several poetic
diction in “The Knight’s Tale” which
derived from the English Romance
tradition. “he authors and singers of
the English metrical romances can
share with Chaucer the
accomplishment of having evolved a
poetic language which was capable of
bearing the artistic loads which the
following centuries would place on it”
(Haymes, 42). Chaucer used different
formulas when ending lines, “"Great
joy and bliss" is a good example of
for- mulas used to end lines. It
provides a good rhyme for "kiss" and
is thus very useful in many narrative
situations” (Haymes, 41).
Romance Writer Continued…
• In “The Knight’s Tale” he uses several phrases and words that describe
Romance and love.
• “The fair beauty of her who roams in yonder spot suddenly slays me, and
if I will not have her pity and her grace, at least to see her, I am dead;
there is no more to say.” (Chaucer, 1119-1122).
• “And at that word Arcite started up. “Now truly,” he said, “howsoever I pay
for it, I will go straightway to Athens. Not for the fear of death will I fail to
see my lady whom I love and serve. If I behold her once, I do not care if I
should die!” (Chaucer 1394-1398).
• Chaucer as a Romance writer included adventure in his stories in order for
it to have a greater meaning and a greater audience. “The demand for
adventure, characteristic of medieval as it still is of modern audiences,
was associated with romance in particular as the most popular secular
form of literature in the Middle Ages.” (Wadiak, 160).
Romance Writer Continued…
• An important part of the story about these two knights is the Oath they
made when becoming Knights, but it is quickly broken when they fall in
love with Emily.
• “Chaucer writes of such bonds elsewhere in the Canterbury Tales, where
they are crucial factors in the stories. The narrator Knight does not dwell
on this oath: after the breaking of the oath, Palamon mentions it only
once again, in the grove” (Rock, 417).
• Chaucer does not want the focus to be on this oath as towards the end of
the story Arcite mentions to Emily, “that by your grace you shall have pity
on noble Palamon, your own knight, who serves you with will, heart, and
strength, and always has since first you knew him, and that you shall take
him for your lord and husband.” (Chaucer, lines 3077-3081)
Chaucer’s Romance Structure
During the Medieval period,
Romance had a three-part
structure. The first was
Integration which involved a
social unity such as family, the
second was disintegration where
this unity is interrupted by an
issue and put to the test, the
third and final piece is the
reintegration where the test are
resulting in what we know as
“The Happy Ending”.
Romance Structure in “The Knight’s
• The way Chaucer structures the story is similar to medieval romance but
gives a background to the story.
• Chaucer begins with how Palomon and Arcite were thrown into prison and
how they were cousins through their mothers who were sisters.
• The conflict between them was they both fell in love with the same
• Arcite was freed from Jail through a duke, Perotheus who asked Theseus
to let him free, which he did, but also banished him from Athens
• Arcite grew love sick and returned to Athens to get close to Emily
• Theseus finds out by catching Arcite and Palomon fighting and arranged a
tournament where both would fight to the death.
• The reintegration was Arcite beating Palomon but falls of his horse and
practically dying and handing Emily over to Palomon for which they both
lived happily ever after
Geoffrey Chaucer- A Romantic
Geoffrey Chaucer was a Romantic and he demonstrated that in many of his
stories. “The Knight’s tale” was one of them and the structure is different
from “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” where Chaucer uses a game on top
of the classic Romance Structure. “The Knight’s Tale” was different because it
was adventurous like his other stories, but it wasn’t about a man and a
woman falling in love like in Shakespeare's plays but instead it was about two
great knights who would die for one woman. The diction and tone Chaucer
uses in the story helps to portray the strength these two knights have for the
love of this woman and both almost end up killing themselves in order to win
• Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Knights Tale. NeCastro,
Gerard, ed. and trans. eChaucer: October 26, 2013
• Haymes, Edward R. “Chaucer and the English Romance Tradition” South
Atlantic Bulletin 37.4 (1972): 35-43 South Atlantic Modern Language
Association. Web. 17 Oct. 2013
• Rock, Catherine A. "Forsworn And Fordone: Arcite As Oath-Breaker In The
"Knight's Tale.." Chaucer Review 40.4 (2006): 416-432. Web. 17 Oct. 2013
• Wadiak, Walter. "Chaucer's Knight's Tale And The Politics Of Distinction."
Philological Quarterly 89.2/3 (2010): 159-184. Academic Search Complete.
Web. 17 Oct. 2013.