The objective of this paper is to compare and contrast two tales that are available in the Canterbury Tales. There were some twenty four titles to choose from and the two tales chosen were The Knight’s Tale and the Cook’s Tale.
In the Knight’s tale, the setting was in Greece at a time when the knights’ battle against Creon was just finished. It focused on the story of knighthood. There were two knights in the story named Palamon and Arcite. Knights have been known for their various typical aspects such as respect, morals, ethics, chivalry, piety, and courtly love. Collectively, these aspects and characteristics are embedded in what they call knighthood or in some cases knight-ship.
In the story, the two knights fell in love with the same woman. Her name was Emily, a princess. She was the sister of the Theseus, Hippolyta. Theseus was the duke of Athens . It is important to note that both knights were imprisoned at the beginning of the story. All evidences and events in the story so far suggest that knighthood was the central theme.
The actions of the two characters (Palamon and Arcite) serve as the best evidences that back up this claim. Firstly, they were more than capable of launching an attack from within the prison in order to escape from Theseus but they did not so because of the morality and ethics of battle that they valued so much.
It is important to note, however, that Palamon managed to escape by some un-knightly measures such as drugging the jailer. Arci was basically bailed by one of the duke’s good friend. In that situation, Arci can be considered as the well-connected knight while Palamon could be the one that is decisive and resourceful—all of which are needed to survive the harsh experiences and challenges often associated with knighthood. Secondly, although they knew that they were fighting over the same girl, they did not let their emotions take over. Had it been the case, they would have already killed each other the moment they had the chance to do it. This clearly was the case for them. Thanks to Theseus, a duel or judicial tournament was held wherein each of the two knights was instructed to gather up 100 men each to fight for them in a battle. The winner of which was to marry Emily.
The tournament was designed to be so civil that Theseus basically guaranteed that no one was to die from the battle. The rules of the duel suggest that if any man becomes seriously injured, he should be dragged out of battle immediately. Unfortunately, Arcite died in battle when he accidentally got injured by his horse—he fell on his horse and his horse fell on him too. Arcite was about to win that tournament when the tragedy occurred. In the end he died and so the only one left was Palamon who was also injured at the time. Aside from the morals that can be learned from knighthood, another important part of this tale was Theseus’ first mover speech.
Analysts believed that the speech was supposed to outline Geoffrey Chaucer’s interpretation of the philosophy of Boethius, popular among early medieval writers and philosophers. The speech also included his interpretations of Christian philosophy. Aside from the fact that knighthood was highlighted in the story, Theseus’ first mover speech was the second most powerful theme in The Knight’s Tale.
The Cook’s Tale was another tale from the Canterbury Tales. Compared to the Knight’s Tale, it was significantly shorter, with only approximately 58 lines allocated for it. It is also worth noting that the structure of the plot was unconventional in that it was left unfinished—i.e. there was no ending . The story revolves around an apprentice named Perkyn or Perkin who was fond of dancing and drinking. Perkin got released by his master and then decided to move in with a friend—one who also loves to drink and whose wife was a prostitute. Analysts suggest that there are only two reasons why the story was left unfinished by Chaucer (i.e. author of the Canterbury Tales). First is that he intended to leave it unfinished so that he could return to it after writing the other tales in the other groups that appeared much later than the Cook’s Tale; the second theory suggests that a significant part of the original manuscript was lost. Analyzing the content of the tale, it would seem that Roger of Ware, the cook in the story, was there for a reason; that he was a real person who was around at the same time as Chaucer . If this was true, then one can only imagine which among the characters from all the other tales were derived from real people who existed at the same time as Chaucer. Another theory about the story suggests that the story of Roger of Ware might be two things: a real event or a parody of what really happened. Nonetheless, both of which are possible but proving them would be factually impossible.
All in all, the two tales mentioned in this paper were unique in their own ways. The central idea or theme presented in the Knight’s Tale was that of Knighthood with a special level of attention on Theseus’ First Mover Speech that showed his Christian and Medieval philosophical upbringings. The Cook’s Tale on the other hand was more mind-boggling in that no one really knows why it was cut off. It raised a lot of questions about the persona named Roger of Ware; whether he was really a real person or just one of the products of Chaucer’s imagination.
Chaucer, G. "The Cook's Tale." The Canterbury Tales (n.d.): n.p. Print. 22 Apr 2016.
—. "The Knight's Tale Summary." (n.d.): n.p. Print. 22 Apr 2016.
Schmoop. "The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue and Frame Story the Cook's Prologue Summary." (2016): http://www.shmoop.com/canterbury-tales-prologue/cooks-prologue.html. Web. 22 Apr 2016.