CANTERBURY TALES--THE KNIGHT AND HIS TALE            

[Cross-references included at the bottom of the page]

 

353. BLAKE, KATHLEEN A. "Order and the Noble Life in Chaucer's Knight's Tale." Modern Language Quarterly 34 (1973):3-19.

Argues that Theseus of Knight's Tale imposes his will upon others to create order and control fate, reflecting both the Knight's belief in the "ideal of a noble life" and the "shakiness of the grounds for such faith." The tale reveals that "'noble order'...is not the earthly embodiment of God's scheme."

354. BOHEEMEN, CHRISTEL VAN. "Chaucer's Knight's Tale and the Structure of Myth." Dutch Quarterly Review of Anglo- American Letters 9 (1979):176-90.

Analyzes the structural opposition in Knight's Tale between Theseus and Palamon and Arcite. The two oppose the one in many ways in the poem (disorder vs. order, Thebes vs. Athens, passion vs. intellect, etc.) and the oppositions are resolved only through the dissolution of the pair through Acrite's death and resolution with Theseus in Palamon's marriage to Emelye.

355. BROOKS, DOUGLAS, and FOWLER, ALISTAIR. "The Meaning of Chaucer's Knight's Tale." Medium AEvum 39 (1970):123-46.

Establishes the structural and thematic cogency of the Knight's Tale by analyzing physiognomic and iconographic details of the characters and the mythographic associations between the presiding planets and the Ages of Man. Psychology of humors distinguishes Palamon and Arcite (melancholy and cholera); their associations with Lygurge and Emetrius are consistent with this psychology; and their outcomes are reflected in the planets. Emelye is phlegmatic, and the jovial Theseus is colored by the Knight's own character.

356. BURROW, J.A. "Chaucer's Knight's Tale and the Three Ages of Man." In Essays on Medieval Literature. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984, pp. 27-48, and Medieval and Pseudo-Medieval Literature: The J.A.W. Bennett Memorial Lectures, Perugia, 1982-1983, ed. by Piero Boitani and Anna Torti. Tubinger Beitrage zur Anglistik, no. 6. Tubingen: Gunter Narr; Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1984, pp. 91-108.

Studies the ages of the men and gods in Knight's Tale, discussing the youthful associations of Arcite and Mars, Palamon and Venus, and Emelye and Diana; the maturity of Theseus and Jupiter; and the old age of Egeus and Saturn. The Knight privileges middle age and Theseus, but pessimistically overshadows the action with Saturn rather than Jupiter.

357. COOK, ALBERT STANBURROUGH. "The Historical Background of Chaucer's Knight." Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 20 (1916):161-240. Reprinted separately. New York: Haskell House, 1966, 80 pp.

Reconstructs Chaucer's knowledge of and relations with Henry, Earl of Derby, the future Henry IV, and examines Henry's military career, arguing that Chaucer derived much of information for the portrait of the Knight in Canterbury Tales from Henry and in part modelled the Knight on the future king. Matches several details of the Knight's sketch with Henry's career, especially the northern locations in the catalog of battles. Identifies the southern battles and attributes them to the career of Henry of Lancaster, Derby's maternal grandfather. Dates the Knight's sketch and part of Knight's Tale in 1393.

358. COWGILL, BRUCE KENT. "The Knight's Tale and the Hundred Years' War." Philological Quarterly 54 (1975):670-79.

Argues that the "great tournament" of Knight's Tale is intentionally archaic, evident through comparison with fourteenth-century accounts, and therefore indicative of Chaucer's criticism of the decline of contemporary "chivalric ideals in the debilitating antagonism of the Hundred Years' War."

359. CRAMPTON, GEORGIA R. The Conditions of Creatures: Suffering and Action in Chaucer and Spenser. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974, 217 pp.

Contrasts the thematic interaction of action and suffering in Chaucer and Spenser, concentrating on Knight's Tale and The Faerie Queene, and observing Chaucer's preference for patience and forbearance, and Spenser's for action. Theseus is the active protagonist in Knight's Tale who comes to espouse sufferance. The tale's dominant imagery (cycle, prison, traps) enforces the advisability of such sufferance in the face of divine influence. Generally, the poets share the view of life as pilgrimage, but where Spenser's poetry emphasizes struggle as a means to success, Chaucer's works emphasize compromise: troth-plighting, bargain and treaty making, and game playing--all of which accept limitations on action.

360. EBNER, DEAN. "Chaucer's Precarious Knight." In Imagination and Spirit: Essays Presented to Clyde S. Kilby. Edited by C.A. Huttar. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1971, pp. 87-100.

Characterizes Chaucer's Knight by examining his sketch and tale in light of his interruption of the Monk's tragedies. Unlike the Monk, the Knight views Fortune as a positive, beneficial force--an attitude reflected in his personal success, the "happy ending" of his tale, and his rejection of the Monk's dour perspective.

361. ELBOW, PETER H. "How Chaucer Transcends Oppositions in the Knight's Tale." Chaucer Review 7 (1972):97-112. Revised slightly in Oppositions in Chaucer (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1975), pp. 73-94.

Examines the Knight's Tale as a poem which transcends its own demande d'amour (which knight is more worthy?) by thoroughly developing Palamon and Arcite and revealing the "profound irrelevancies" of courtly ways of judging worth. The examination of courtly ideals does not, however, deny their importance.

362. GAYLORD, ALAN T. "The Role of Saturn in the Knight's Tale." Chaucer Review 8 (1974):172-90.

Reads Saturn of Knight's Tale metaphorically, as an encapsulation of the effects of human folly, an "elaboration" of the unfortunate aspects of Venus and Mars, and the representation of the old order which is overwhelmed by the new order of "reason, moderation, and pitee."

363. HANNING, ROBERT W. "'The Struggle Between Noble Design and Chaos': The Literary Tradition of Chaucer's Knight's Tale." Literary Review 23 (1980):519-41.

Traces the development of the thematic opposition between order and chaos from Statius's Thebaid through Boccaccio's Teseida to Chaucer's Knight's Tale. In Thebaid, epic "pessimistic vision" and horror overwhelm Theseus's attempt to civilize Thebes. Boccaccio imposes self-conscious, almost cynical, poetic control on the narrative, suggesting the importance of manipulation to achieve order in either poetry or life. Attributed to a professional soldier, Chaucer's Knight's Tale exposes the tension within the chivalric code which "seeks to moralize and dignify aggression."

364. HELTERMAN, JEFFREY. "The Dehumanizing Metaphor of the Knight's Tale." ELH 38 (1971):199-211.

Locates a disruptive sub-text in Knight's Tale: a combination of bestial imagery, the "rhetorical management" of the tournament, and the irony of occupatio. The sub-text disturbs the order which the Knight seeks to express and reflects the fourteenth- century difficulty of resolving the ideals of chivalry and love.

365. HERZMAN, RONALD B. "The Paradox of Form: The Knight's Tale and Chaucerian Aesthetics." Papers in Language and Literature 10 (1974):339-52.

Assesses Knight's Tale thematically and formally, and as an aesthetic paradigm of Canterbury Tales. The structure of the tale dominates its romance form, and chivalric behavior--the structure of courtly life-- dominates human action. Each structuring is overt and therefore reminiscient of a higher ordering, just as the tales themselves recall a higher pilgrimage.

366. KEEN, MAURICE. "Chaucer's Knight, the English Aristocracy, and the Crusade." In English Court Culture in the Later Middle Ages. Edited by V. J. Scattergood and J.W. Sherborne. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co.; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983, pp. 45-61.

Surveys the conditions of military crusading in Chaucer's time, illuminating the portrait of the Knight in Canterbury Tales. The crusading ideal was a "strong one" and the Knight's portrait reflects a "life-style and ideals much admired in the court of Richard II."

367. LOOMIS, DOROTHY BETHURUM. "Saturn in Chaucer's Knight's Tale." In Chaucer und seine Zeit: Symposion fur Walter F. Schirmir. Edited by Arno Esch. Buchreihe der anglia Zeitshrift fur englische Philologie, no. 14. Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1968, pp. 149-61.

Assesses the figure of Saturn in Chaucer's Knight's Tale in light of astrological and mythological tradition. Emphasizes the importance of Bernard Silvestris in associating the god with determinism, Saturn's mythographic value as wisdom, and his malevolent function in the zodiac.

368. MEIER, T.K. "Chaucer's Knight as 'Persona': Narration as Control." English Miscellany 20 (1969):11-21.

Characterizes the Knight of Canterbury Tales by assessing the tone and details of his tale, observing the general, stoic pessimism of his focus on the uncertainties of war, love, and religion, and suggesting that he "counsels a lack of exuberance," reflects an "ironic tolerance" of others, and accepts the "natural order of things."

369. MUSCATINE, CHARLES. "Form, Texture, and Meaning in Chaucer's Knight's Tale." PMLA 65 (1950):911-29. Reprinted in Chaucer: Modern Essays in Criticism, ed. by Edward Wagenknecht (London: Oxford University Press, 1959), pp. 60-82.

Examines the formal symmetry of Knight's Tale as it conflicts with the "violent ups and downs of the surface narrative," displaying an opposition between order and choas transcended in Theseus's faith in the "ultimate order of all things." The actions and speeches of Palamon and Arcite define the "struggle between noble designs and chaos."

370. OLSON, PAUL A. "Chaucer's Epic Statement and the Political Milieu of the Late Fourteenth Century." Mediaevalia 5 (1979):61-87.

Sets Knight's Tale in the tradition of political verse, and argues that the tale encourages peace in the domestic and foreign affairs of Chaucer's England. The hortatory, heroic style of the tale presents Theseus as a peace-making ideal, pertinent to the French wars of the time. The juxtaposition of the Miller's Tale with the Knight's Tale encourages placid relations with the peasant class.

371. REIDY, JOHN. "The Education of Chaucer's Duke Theseus." In The Epic in Medieval Society: Asethetic and Moral Values. Edited by Harald Scholler. Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1977, pp. 391-408.

Traces the development of Theseus in Knight's Tale from simply a "successful soldier" to a philosophical ruler, gauging the propriety of his military actions against medieval law and showing how he gains perspective through the death of Arcite and recognizes the relation between human action and divine providence.

372. SALTER, ELIZABETH. "Chaucer and Boccaccio: The Knight's Tale." In Fourteenth-Century English Poetry: Contexts and Readings. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983, pp. 141- 81.

Assesses Chaucer's modifications of Boccaccio's Teseide and his adaptation of Bothius's Consolation of Philosophy in Knight's Tale, highlighting his concern with "destinal forces," and challenging traditional interpretations by arguing that the poem presents a world which is "uncertain" and instable, heterodox in its emphasis upon the "stubborn truths of human experience."

373. SCHEPS, WALTER. "Chaucer's Theseus and the Knight's Tale." Leeds Studies in English 9 (1977):19-34.

Sketches the classical and medieval backgrounds to Theseus as he appears in four Chaucerian narratives. In Anelida and Arcite, Chaucer depicts the positive, heroic Theseus derived from Statius's Thebaid; in House of Fame and Legend of Good Women, the negative, Ovidian deserter of Ariadne. In Knight's Tale, Chaucer either combines both views or follows a Petrarchan tradition, producing a "morally ambivalent" character who is "unable to impose his will upon events."

374. TURNER, FREDERICK. "A Structuralist Analysis of the Knight's Tale." Chaucer Review 8 (1974):279-96.

Analyzes Knight's Tale as a "mythic" structure in which patterns of marriage and incest, kinship and rivalry, interact with the hierarchies and oppositions among the major characters and the gods that align with them. The tales of the the Miller and Reeve reflect "mock mythic" versions of the structure.

375. VAN, THOMAS A. "Theseus and the 'Right Way' of the Knight's Tale." Studies in the Literary Imagination 4 (1971):83- 100.

Assesses the development of Theseus in Knight's Tale from his early irascibleness to his philosophical resolve, identifying the "forgiveness scene" in the forest as his turning point and elucidating his "normative presence" in the second half of the poem.

See also entries 137, 141, 159, 215, 229, 260, 272, 285, 902. For theme and philosophy: 54, 154, 157, 209-10, 214, 216, 218, 243, 245, 319, 719; sources and influence: 167, 170-72, 179-80, 196, 225, 252; characters: 133, 136, 237, 241; relations to other tales: 246, 262, 277-79, 282, 376, 381, 527, 529, 531, 534, 628, 638.

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