A Comparison Of The Knight And The Squire In Chauc

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A Comparison Of The Knight And The Squire In Chaucers The Canterbury

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, was very
chivalrous because of his unconditional dedication (4). He had been in
"fifteen mortal battles" and "always killed his men" which supports that he
is committed to his work, as opposed to the Squire, who possessed a
distracted attitude (4). "He could make sons and poems and recite, / Knew
how to joust and dance, to draw and write" and so has focused his time and
energy to many other things (5). The Squire's

priorities are in entertaining rather than in his vocation, perhaps due to
his young age. In contrast, the Knight focused solely on his chivalrous
duty; returning "home from service, he had joined the ranks / To do his
pilgrimage and give thanks" (5). Although Chaucer does not criticize the
Squire by his writing, the Squire's hesitant attitude towards putting
himself in mortal danger as well as his lack of conviction are revealed in
light of the Knight's numerous demonstrations of a willingness to defend his
faith single-handedly and also in extreme hardship and distance.
In addition to Chaucer's descriptions of dedication that distinguish the
Knight, Chaucer also provides a description of the Squire's acquisitiveness
for wealth and beauty, a quality that is contrary to the humble nature of
the knight. The Squire had "locks as curly as if they had been pressed",
while there is no such description of the Knight's appearance whatsoever
(5). I feel that Chaucer does not intend to criticize the Squire by the
mention of the beauty of the Squire's hair in conjunction with the mention
of the poor outfit of the Knight. Instead he attempts to point out that the
Squire is the lesser of the two in terms of keeping to the code of chivalry.
Regarding his articles of clothing, the Knight wore a fustian tunic, which
was only somewhat bright and only sufficiently comfortable. An example of
the Squire's meticulous appearance is:
He was embroidered like a meadow bright
And full of freshest flowers, red and white.
. . . He was as fresh as is the month of May.
Short was his gown, the sleeves were long and wide...(5)

This passage exhibits the superficial qualities that were found in the
Squire's clothing. The Squire's clothing was clean and "bright", and so
this seemingly fitting dress is compared to the
"stained and dark" tunic that the Knight wore beneath his armor (5). These
articles of clothing are also unnecessary to the vocation of a knight. This
accounts for the Knight's plain armor and tunic while clearly showing the
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