The Canterbury Tales Questions and Answers
by Geoffrey Chaucer

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What is the theme and setting of The Knight's Tale in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales?

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The Knight's Tale deals principally with the quest for love and its power. Throughout the narration, the reader is made acutely aware of the fact that the quest for true love knows no bounds. Such love transcends even the bonds of family, comradeship, honor and duty, as exemplified by the actions and expressed sentiments of the two lead characters, Palamon and Arcite.

The two unfortunate knights are imprisoned by Theseus with no hope for ransom or of ever being released. The two almost simultaneously fall in love with the beautiful Emily, a force of nature and sister of Theseus's wife, Hippolyte, when they see her gathering flowers in a garden near their prison tower.

Both claim to have a first right to her and see the other's claim as a betrayal. Their squabble essentially results in a declaration of lifelong enmity for each...

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mandaliikote | Student

The theme of The Knight's Tale is that "you get what you ask for." 

Palamon wishes to see Emily every day (he stays where he can see her for seven years). Arcita wishes to be free from prison so he can be with Emily (he gets free, and eventually sees Emily).

Before the tournament, Palamon asks for Emily, Arcite asks for victory, and Emily asks for peace between the two men. Each of these things is accomplished, but in a way that none of them could have forseen.

bzeldenr | Student

The theme is Fortune's wheel...the ups and downs of life...arcite and palamon's fortunes continually go up and down...the gods are the instruments of Fortune...Mars and Venus destabalize whereas Saturn acts as the mediator and stabalizer.