The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories, which are told by different characters to serve as entertainment on their journey to Canterbury. The characters that arise during the different tale, and those who tell the tales, play an important role in understanding the story, and the structure of the English people living in the 15th century. .
The Knight, who seems to be one of Chaucer's favorite characters, is a noble, honest, and trustworthy man. The narrator describes him as having four main qualities: his love of ideals, his impressive military career, his meek, gentle manor, and finally, his dress. The Knight's story is about two friends, Palamon and Arcita, who are captured in battle by a duke named Theseus. They go through many hardships in prison together for a while, until they notice the duke's daughter Emely. They are both consumed with love for her, and vow to do anything to win her favor. Duke Pirithous, a friend of both Duke Theseus and Arcite, visits Athens. He pleads on Arcite's behalf and Duke Theseus agrees to release him, but he will be banished from the Dukedom, and be beheaded if he returns. Arcite is depressed at this new turn of fate, for he will never be able to see his beloved again, and envies Palamon that he at least will be able to see her from the prison every day. Arcite undergoes a great physical change due to his constant lamenting over his love, Emely. He changes his name to Philostrate, and decides to return to Athens hoping that he will not be recognized. Palamon, meanwhile, has stayed in prison for the years Arcita has been free. The former friends argue until Emely and Theseus see them. Theseus decides that each man will have a year to assemble an army, and then their two armies will fight, and the winner will get to marry Emely. .
Arcita and Palamon both pray to the gods, and the gods decide to favor Arcita with glory. Arcita wins the battle, but he is wounded after his victory, and dies several days later.