In "The Knight's Tale," what is Chaucer's implied relationship between love and war?

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In "The Knight's Tale" in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, love and war are very much related, as love sometimes appears to be a prize of war. Let's look at this in more detail.

First, Duke Theseus has actually won his new wife, Hippolyta, by triumphing over her in war. Hippolyta was the queen of the Amazons, and Theseus actually defeated her in combat and then decided to marry her and bring her to Athens with him. This is not a typical courtship, and we might wonder what Hippolyta really thinks about the situation.

As he comes home to Athens, Theseus is met by a group of women who are weeping for their dead husbands whom Creon has not allowed to be buried. Spurred by the love and grief of these women, Theseus goes to war against Creon and defeats him.

The battle leaves Palamon and Arcite as prisoners of Theseus. They both catch sight of Emilie and fall in love with her. We might wonder, though, how true this love really is, since these two men do not even know Emilie personally but only see her at a distance. Later in the story, they end up going to “war” with each other over Emilie as Theseus decrees a tournament in which the winner receives a bride.

Emilie prays to the goddess Diana to be spared of this fate, for she does not want to marry either of them and would rather remain single and pursue her life on her terms. Arcite wins Emilie but then dies, and she ends up married to Palamon, actually coming to love him in the end.

We can see in this story that war or mock-war may lead to marriage but that real love might take somewhat longer to develop. The women in this story have no choice over their fate. They are won like objects, yet they seem to resign themselves to their situation and make an effort to love the men whom they have married.

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