Please give a detailed character sketch of any one of the characters introduced in the "General Prologue" of The Canterbury Tales.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The strength of the "General Prologue" is in the detailed character sketches that Chaucer gives of the various pilgrims and what this reveals about the identity of his fellow travellers. This sets up a lot of the conflict that exists between some of them, and also gives the reader an initial impression of them that is developed through the stories that each of them tell. Note, for example, how the introduction of the knight clearly prepares us for the kind of noble chivalrous tale that he tells. He is obviously presented as a man who lives his life by the chivalric code:

There was a knight, a reputable man,

Who from the moment that he first began

Campaigning, had cherished the profession

Of arms; he also prized trustworthiness,

Liberality, fame, and courteousness.

The list of positive adjectives seem to stress his chivalrous nature, and it is clear that his experience of armed conflict for worthy, religious causes, and the extent of his prestige proves him to be, as the narrator judges him, "The very pattern of a noble knight." As if to support this, the narrator says that his personal appearance indicates he has just returned from an expedition, as he is in armour that has obviously seen better days. Such a portrait details the characteristics of the knight, giving the reader expectations of the kind of tale he will tell but also indicating how he will operate with the other characters on the pilgrimage.

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