Love and Marriage in The Canterbury Tales .
The nature of love and marriage is presented several ways in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Written around 1387, it is a collection of stories written about the religious pilgrimage to Canterbury that many people often took in that time. There are two stories in the collection that best depict love, and contain two very different perspectives on the subject. .
In "The Knight's Tale," two knights fall deeply in love with the same woman, the fair Emily. Neither knight has spoken to her, but each is willing to fight to the death to win her love. It seems almost like an infatuation, because the two knights, Arcite and Palamon, fall deeply in love with Emily at first sight. To decide which of the two will be granted her love, they have a battle, each side with a hundred men. It is interesting though, how Emily does not wish to be married, but does not seem to be phased by the fact that blood is being shed over her. Maybe she realizes that her opinion is worthless, because even if she had something to say, no one would listen. When the battle rolls around, Arcite wins, but is killed when the Gods frighten his horse, causing him to fall off. Eventually, Palamon marries Emily, and they live happily ever after. .
The irony in the story is how neither Arcite nor Palamon has even spoken to Emily, but each is willing to die for her love. Their love is based entirely on Emily's physical attractiveness. When Arcite first sees Emily his reaction nearly causes him pain; "Now, as he spoke, Arcite chanced to see/ this lady as she roamed there to and fro/ and at the sight, her beauty hurt him so." The love is very superficial, and it surprises me that the story ends with Palamon and Emily living happily ever after. This does seem characteristic of the Knight's personality however, which can be inferred from his description in the general prologue. He is described as possessing the qualities of "Truth, honor, generousness, and courtesy," which can all be found in this tale.