How is courage portrayed in Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale"?

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Knight's Tale," the Knight primarily portrays courage on the battlefield, and he focuses on the deeds of noble warriors vying for the love of a single woman. Indeed, the climax of the story involves an organized battle between two former friends, Arcite and Palamon, who are fighting to win Emily's love. Both warriors conduct themselves honorably on the battlefield and abide by the code of chivalry. As such, we can see that, according to the Knight, courage is a quality that is best suited for warfare. That said, the Knight's portrayal of courage in warfare never involves ruthlessness or cruelty. Instead, all of his warriors conduct themselves with nobility and dignity and choose to fight for noble causes (such as Emily's love). As such, though the Knight defines courage as a quality best suited for warfare, he also portrays it as a quality that is only exhibited in "civilized" warfare. This distinction is in keeping with the Knight's dignified and courteous personality. 

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