The importance of marriage in Chaucer's "Knight's tale"

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mary Elizabeth Edmundson (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Charles Tisdale

Abstract: Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales has long provided readers with entertainment and enlightenment into the customs of the Middle Ages. This study proposes that with an awareness of the Medieval concept of marriage, as it is introduced in the "Knight's Tale," the collection of tales assumes additional importance and seriousness of purpose. The marriage theme incorporates three major influences upon the philosophy of the period: St. Augustine, Boethius, and the Bible. It combines these teachings with the idea of hierarchical order that pervades all aspects of Medieval life, beginning with the moral center of each individual and reflecting in the external facets of his life. The condition of man's moral being is evident in his relationship with his family, society, state, and church. For the alert Christian reader of the fourteenth century, the "Knight's Tale" provides a pattern for the proper way to order one's life through marriage and to reach eventually the ultimate goal of Celestial Jerusalem. The tale also shows the consequences of a disordered life that leads to eternal Babylon and damnation. The remaining tales present both positive and negative aspects of the marriage theme introduced in the "Knight's Tale" and conclude with the hope of salvation for repentant sinners offered in the "Parson's Tale."

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1971
Chaucer, Geoffrey, $d d. 1400 $x Criticism and interpretation
Chaucer, Geoffrey, $d d. 1400. $t Knight's tale

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