A Comparison of the Knight and the Squire in Chaucer's the Canterbury

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A Comparison of the Knight and the Squire in Chaucer's the Canterbury

By | October 1999
Page 1 of 7
In the medieval period that is described by Chaucer's Canterbury Tales,

chivalry was perhaps the most recognized quality of a true gentleman. This

quality is explored in Chaucer's two characters of the warrior class, the

Knight and the Squire. The squire is the son of the Knight; both ride

gallantly and have the air of true gentleman warriors. However, the two are

very dissimilar despite their appearances. The Knight possesses the true

qualities of chivalry, devotion to service, constancy in humility, and

honesty. The Squire possesses none of these qualities truly; instead his

demeanor is one that is less honorable and virtuous. Although both claim

the same vocation, the Squire and the Knight display contradicting attitudes

in respect to dedication, material possessions, and sincerity.

The main point in the description of the Knight was the abundance and

importance of his battles, while it was the least mentioned aspect in the

Squire. The entirety of the Squire's military experience is named in two

lines, "he had seen some service with the cavalry/ If Flanders and Artois

and Picardy," perchance a direct consequence of the Squire's youth (5). The

list of the Knight's battles clearly dominates the text of his description,

running many lines. He had embarked ".along the Mediterranean coast" to

such places as Alexandria, Lithuania, Russia, Granada, Algeciras, North

Africa, Benamarin, Anatolia, Ayas, and Attalia (4). Not only were the

battles of the knight more numerous, they were more extensive and required

lengthy travels to far-away lands. The Squire had "done valiantly in little

space" in these battles, but had not distinguished himself from his peers.

This is implied when it is said that he had only seen "some service with the

cavalry" (5).

The Squire had pursued no noteworthy errands in the interest of chivalry

like his father. The "distinguished knight", on the other hand,...

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