Today we look back at knighthood, chivalry, and “curteisye” as romantic and unreal. It is true that a code of behavior did exist, and Chaucer presents the Knight as a real representative of the code. However the Knight in the Wife of Baths tale, is the complete opposite of this one, and violates all of the rules of Knighthood. By way of contrast the Knight in The Wife of Bath’s Tale is more common during the Middle Ages, and stories of rape by knights were not uncommon. Chaucer goes against the normal chivalric ideal of a knight by presenting a knight as he really might have been, which is the knight presented in The Wife of Bath’s Tale.
As all of the different tales reflect back on the characters of the pilgrims who tell them, the ideas in the Knight’s Tale are reflected back on the Knight. His tale is a tale of ideal love and chivalry, and fits the character of the Knight. Furthermore, fitting the Knight’s character, his tale has no incidents of vulgarity, the love is a clean love, with no hint of sensuality. The love exists on a high, platonic level....
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...thesis of the qualities that a good and honorable knight should have.
It is highly unlikely that a knight such as Chaucer’s night lived and breathed in his times. As Chaucer does with all of his characters, he is producing a stereotype in creating the persona of such and ideal man. Chaucer in describing the Knight, is depicting a chivalric ideal, when in fact the actions of the knight in the “Wife of Bath’s Tale” is the actual portrait of the knight that existed in those times. I pose that the essence of Chaucer’s Knight was no more real in his day than it is today, and he was simply giving the people and ideal character to admire. He never intended his fictional star to be interpreted as a reality, and he was only giving his readers what they wanted. Today, our mass media delivers the same package and on a grander and even more fictional scale than ever before.
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