Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, written in approximately 1385,
is a collection of twenty-four stories ostensibly told by various people who are
going on a religious pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral from London, England.
Prior to the actual tales, however, Chaucer offers the reader a glimpse of
fourteenth century life by way of what he refers to as a General Prologue. In
this prologue, Chaucer introduces all of the characters who are involved in this
imaginary journey and who will tell the tales. Among the characters included in
this introductory section is a knight. Chaucer initially refers to the knight
as "a most distinguished man" (l. 43) and, indeed, his sketch of the knight is
The knight, Chaucer tells us, "possessed/Fine horses, but he was not
gaily dressed" (ll. 69-70). Indeed, the knight is dressed in a common shirt
which is stained "where his armor had left mark" (l. 72). That is, the knight is
"just home from service" (l. 73) and is in such a hurry to go on his pilgrimage
that he has not even paused before beginning it to change his clothes.
The knight has had a very busy life as his fighting career has taken
him to a great many places. He has seen military service in Egypt, Lithuania,
Prussia, Russia, Spain, North Africa, and Asia Minor where he "was of [great]
value in all eyes (l. 63). Even though he has had a very successful and busy
career, he is extremely humble: Chaucer maintains that he is "modest as a maid"
(l. 65). Moreover, he has never said a rude thing to anyone in his entire life
(cf., ll. 66-7).
Clearly, the knight possesses an outstanding character. Chaucer
gives to the knight one of the more flattering descriptions in the General
Prologue. The knight can do no wrong: he is an outstanding warrior who has
fought for the true faith--according to Chaucer--on three continents. In the
midst of... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(1999, 10). The Canterbury Tales: a Character Sketch of Chaucer's Knight. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 1999, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Canterbury-Tales-Character-Sketch-Chaucers-Knight-279.html
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"The Canterbury Tales: a Character Sketch of Chaucer's Knight." StudyMode.com. 10, 1999. Accessed 10, 1999. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Canterbury-Tales-Character-Sketch-Chaucers-Knight-279.html.