The Canterbury Tales – The Knight?s Tale Essay, Research Paper
Abortion is a subject that is very controversial. It is legal to have an abortion, but in some people?s opinion it is an immoral act that should not be legal. In the Middle Ages the knights has a code of chivalry to live by, and it was a moral code. The knights really did not have a legal code because they were supposed to live up to the code of chivalry. Kings also had to follow these codes if they were to be considered a good King. In Chaucer?s The Canterbury Tales The Knight?s Tale represents what the code of chivalry stands for, this however is completed contrasted by Malory?s Le Morte d?Artur.
I the knight?s Tale, two knights are imprisoned in a kingdom and they both fall in love with the same girl. One of them is granted release from imprisonment with the promise never to return to the kingdom again, the other manages to escape. They meet again in a field and they argue as to who should have the girl?s hand. An outside party sets up a joust in which one of the men severely wounds the other and wins. The man who wins falls off his horse and dies and with his dying breath says that he would love for the girl to be with his adversary. This is the model of chivalry and of sportsmanship, if it can be called that. According to David Benson, the author of The Knight?s
Tale as History,. Chaucer creates a classical world, which would be believable to a medieval audience. Chaucer also examines chivalry in a pre-Christian state. Chaucer shows the best of ?secular knighthood? and suggests that it foreshadow Christian chivalry. This proves that Chaucer was trying to create ideal knights obeying the code of chivalry. The two knights fought for the girl instead of trying to deceive one another or the girl to be with her.
That situation is what happens in Le Morte d?Arthur. Uther Pengragon deceives the Dukes wife with the help of the wizard Merlin, which enables Uther to father Arthur. This is in direct violation with the code of chivalry according to Leon Gautier, the Author of Chivalry. He states the ten Commandments of the Code of Chivalry. The eighth rule says, ?Thou shalt never lie, and shall remain faithful to thy pledged word.? Uther clearly lied to the Dukes wife by fooling her to think that he was her husband.
Malory?s ideals of Chivalry were obviously different then Chaucer?s ideals. According, Thomas J. Hatton, author of Chaucer’s Crusading Knight, a Slanted Ideal., Chaucer painted a portrait of the knight?s with a big emphasis on two virtues, worthiness and wisdom. As a worthy man the knight knew how to fight bravely, and skillfully. He was also wise in choosing his actions to represent their ?chivalric ideals.? All these things represent what Philipe de M?zi?res and his Order proposed as ?chivalric ideal.? This goes to show even more that Chaucer wanted to create the ideal knight. Again, Le Morte d?Arthur, contradicts thins point because Uther and the Duke do not fight bravely for the women, and they do not demonstrate any kind of qualities that a person living under the chivalric code should live by.
The code of Chivarly is a code that people in the court were supposed to live by and probably everyone thought or pretended they did live by those laws. Like all societies the laws that are supposed to be followed do not always get followed. Chaucer wrote this story so that people would think that the knights in The Knight?s Tale are how all knights acted in the Middle Ages. Malory had other plans when he wrote Le Morte d?Arthur, because he had corruption on his mind. Malory had the most truthful depiction of how kings and knights acted in the Middle Ages. Mot all knights were corrupt but a good majority of them were.
?While it is difficult to find precise rules laid down for the conduct of a knight, it is clear that a code is recognized, even though, in the stern tests of day to day life, it was rarely, faithfully lived up to. Amid all the treachery, greed, infidelity and cruelty there are to be found shining examples of courage, gentleness, understanding and mercy inspired by those rules that only a perfect man could live up? (http://www.geocities.com/Area51/1567/ten.html)
This quotes sums up the code of chivalry and how it should be followed and how it was followed. It represents the two sides, Chaucer?s ideal knights and Malory?s corrupt knight. The two contradicted each other and made people wonder how the code of chivalry was really followed.