The Knight’s Tale

*excerpt from “The Knight’s Tale” part 2*

1785        “The god of love, a benedicite!
1786        How myghty and how greet a lord is he!
1787        Ayeyns his myght ther gayneth none obstacles.
1788        He may be cleped a god for his myracles,
1789        For he kan maken, at his owene gyse,
1790        Of everich herte as that hym list divyse.
1791        Lo heere this Arcite and this Palamoun,
1792        That quitly weren out of my prisoun,
1793        And myghte han lyved in Thebes roially,
1794        And witen I am hir mortal enemy,
1795        And that hir deth lith in my myght also,
1796        And yet hath love, maugree hir eyen two,
1797        Broght hem hyder bothe for to dye.
1798        Now looketh, is nat that an heigh folye?

This passage is an excerpt from the Theseus’ speech, right after he had made the decision of sparing both their lives based on the wailing and crying of the surrounding women. He sighed and resigned to the fact that he is a gentle and merciful man (similar to the ideas of a certain divine saviour that was very popularly believed in the the medieval times).

These 14 lines set up an important question in my mind about Chaucer’s perception of the world. Theseus suggestions that the God’s are ever mighty and that life is predestined in this world.  ‘benedicite’ or rather cupid is the cause of all this nonsense, it was their will that those Palamoun and Arcite would escape but return to the land of their enemy for love. However, it becomes muddied as to whether or not those ideas are meant to be followed or questioned at all. For after he mentions that their actions were foolish. They could have acted differently upon their freedoms. Do men have their own free will or must they followed that which is prescribed. According to the footnotes it is a matter of both almost. In Boethian story, Teseida, there is this idea that the universe is often at war within the 4 different elements, creating discord but that love mends those disagreements with one another. Implying that nature is imperfect in its details but perfect (which is almost a default since you can’t have one and not the other) in its total. Meaning that the world is determined to hit some major points but the road can be winding and long depending on man’s will. The way man handles that road, and is often so when talking about the affairs of the heart can be seen as stupid and unnecessary.

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