The Canterbury Tales: Analysis of the Knight


The Knyght is the first character of the general prologue in the Canterbury Tales written by Geoffrey Chaucer. As April comes, the narrator begins a pilgrimage to Canterbury from the Tabard Inn at Southwerk. Twenty-nine people make the pilgrimage toward Canterbury and the narrator describes them in turn. Each of these travelers finds themselves in the Tabard Inn, where the Host, suggests that on their way to Canterbury each traveler tell two tales, and on the way back each traveler tell two more. They draw lots to decide who will tell the first tale, and it is the Knight who has the honor. Although the order is supposedly random, the Knight draws the first lot and thus randomly receives the rank appropriate to his status, which indicates that the Host may have fixed the lots in order to curry favor with the Knight.

The pilgrims are listed in relative order of status, thus the first character is the Knight. Chaucer describes the knight as a worthy man who had fought in the Crusades. In the narrators eyes, the Knyght is the noblest of all the pilgrims. The Knyght represents a military estate, loyalty, honor, generosity, and good manners. The Knyght conducts himself in a polite, mild fashion, never saying an unkind word to anyone. The worthiness of the Knyght is clearly admired, “A Knyght ther was, and that a worthy man”(line 43); “And evere honored for his worthynesse”(line50); “This ilke worthy knyght hadde been also”(line 64); “And though that he were worthy, he was wys”(line 68). The main qualities of the Knyght was his worthiness, military career, gentility, and his fashion.

At the beginning of the text, the knight is described as chivalric, “To riden out, loved chivalrie(line 45). But at the end of the text, knight’s quality of dress is completely opposite, “Of fustian he wered a gypon”(line75). The Knyght wore a tunic made of coarse cloth. The tunic was stained by (rust from) his coat of mail, which seems as if the Knyghts actions are more important than his looks. His horses were in good condition, “His hors were good, but he was not gay”(line74).

The Knyght was very brave, courteous, and honorable. He was the leader of Christians, Heathens, and Knights. His bravery, won the battle in Alexandria, “At lasiandra he was whan it was wonne” (line 51). He defeated his enemies in Latvia, Prussia, Granada, Algeciras, Belmarie, Atyas, and Satalye. At mortal battles he fought fifteen men and defeated them. At sometime he was with the lord of Palatye against He was the leader of Christians, Heathens, and Knights. His bravery, won the battle in Alexandria, “At lasiandra he was whan it was wonne” (line 51). He defeated his enemies in Latvia, Prussia, Granada, Algeciras, Belmarie, Atyas, and Satalye. At mortal battles he fought fifteen men and defeated them. At sometime he was with the lord of Palatye against of not only being wise but being a gentle as a maid, “And of his port as meeke as is a mayde”(line69). All of his life he was not known to be rude. He was a true and perfect knight.

The theme of the Knyght’s general prologue is that he was the best in all that he did and that he was a worthy individual. He was above all Christians, and Heathens, “And therto hadde he ridden, no man ferre” As well in christandom as in hethenesse“(line 48-49). He was above all knights in Prussia, “Aboven alle nacions in pruce”(line53) . He defeated his enemies in battles. Most of the battles he fought in were over religion, “And foughten for oure feith at tramyssene”(line 62).The Knight was a worthy individual since the day he became a knight, “A Knyght ther was, and that a worthy man(line 43), “That fro the tyme he first bigan“(line44). He had superior skill, fidelity, good reputation, generosity, and manners.

In the general prologue, the narrator mentions all the good qualities of the Knight and displays him as a hero, the "knight in shining armor" type often described in many medieval stories. One can compare the Knight to modern-day American soldiers, as both share the same traits of bravery, skill, and thoughtfulness.