In The Canterbury Tales, what qualities does the Knight posses that differ from those you might expect to find in a veteran solider?

Asked on by jayda2011

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howesk | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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First, to answer this question, ask yourself what traits you would consider typical of a veteran soldier. Personally, I'd think of an experienced soldier as tough, maybe a little bit jaded, and perhaps world-weary.

Then, think of traits you derive from the prologue's description of the knight. The most memorable phrase Chaucer uses here is:

And though so much distinguished, he was wise
And in his bearing modest as a maid.
He never yet a boorish thing had said
In all his life to any, come what might.
He was a truly perfect, gentle knight.

In the above passage, the knight is proscribed several traits- wisdom, modesty, perfection, and gentility. Would you compare a soldier to a maid, as Chaucer has done here? Wisdom, I'd say could certainly be gained in battle. Chaucer also indicates here that the knight has never said anything rude or crude. When thinking about a soldier at war, do you usually think of politeness of manner?

 I think this description is atypical for a soldier. Gentility is probably not something I would associate with a soldier who has been through many battles. In fact, I'd think of a rough, tough manner instead of a gentle, chivalrous one as the night is proscribed.



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