Saturday, September 17, 2011

Canterbury Tales 1: The Knights Tale

The next couple of weeks (at least) will be focused on the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. I have listened to it in its entirety once and then when I was thinking about how to talk about them I decided to break it down into the individual tales and give a post of each one.  I am going to limit my self to one post per story because some of them are so full of interesting things that I could post for a month and still have more to explore. 

A Knight there was, and that a worthy man,
That from the time that he first began
To riden out, he loved chivalry,
Truth and honour, freedom and courtesy.
Full worthy was he in his Lorde's war, (from the introduction)

The Knight was a good man and he had pursued honnor and glory for his Lord. he had fought in many wars and always behaved worthily. his tale is of Palamon, and Arcite. First I should say that his tale takes place in ancient Athens, is filled with gods and goddesses, now back to the story. 

100 word summary: Duke Theseus attacks the town. after the war is found two knights Palamon and Arcite. the knights are imprisoned and one day they both see the Duke's beautiful sister, Emily. They both fall in love. Latter Arcite is freed and latter comes back to in disguise becomes the duke's squire. the other brakes out of prison and they run into each other. Theseus pardons them and holds a tournament to decide which should marry his sister. each prays to their deity for help. Arcite wins and then dies, Palamon marries the sister and lives happily ever after.

There are a lot of things I could talk about in this story. Chivalry is one of the major themes of this story. Duke Theseus is described being a man of great chivalry and that is why he attacks Thebes, and why he is pardons Arcite and Palamon. I could talk about the gods and goddesses who show up and look at how they are described and why Chaucer used the images he used in the temples of the gods and goddesses. which are very strange. I could talk about the power of beauty, when each of the knights see Emily for the first time they say that her beauty slays them. and that could be an interesting thought to chase.
But after listening to the knight's tale over and over again I think that there is something really kind of neat in it. I think that at its heart is the Bro code. Yes Barney Stintson's bro code from How I Meet Your Mother is here in Chaucer's Knight's tale. I was shocked too. I think this, the two knights are 'brothers' who are fighting over a girl, and the reason given for how everything played out. 

We all know about the bro code, it is about how bros should treat each other in general and most importantly when it comes to each other's girl.

Palmon is the first to see Emily, and he falls madly in love with her. (we are just going to ignore the fact that he doesn't actually meet her till it is decided that there will be a tournament to decide who will marry the poor girl.)  He goes on to praise her beauty and declare undying love for her. Arcite sees the girl and says that he loves her. Palamon is confused, and basically says, "wait a second, you're joking right? I just called Dibs." Arcite says the equivalent of, "dude you just said that you worshiped her like a goddess, I love her like a creature." So they start to fight over a girl. but at the heart of their argument is that they have sworn to each other to be brothers in arms. this oath was to always support the other in battle and in love. and sense Palamon saw the lady first Arcite should help him to chase his love instead of be a rival. You see they have a code, and oath which makes them brothers, which means that they should not be rivals but if who ever was second should support who ever was first. 

So the two brothers in arms become rivals. So much that they change from being men who would have died for the other to men who are willing to kill each other. Sadly it is not till one of them is dying that they are able to reconcile over this disagreement. the moral of the story? the bro code is important. 

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