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Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – Knight’s Tale Knight’s Tale

The Canterbury Tales – The Knight Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, written in approximately 1385, is a collection of twenty-four stories ostensibly told by various people who are going on a religious pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral from London, England. Prior to the actual tales, however, Chaucer offers the reader a glimpse of fourteenth century life by way of what he refers to as a General Prologue. In this prologue, Chaucer introduces all of the characters who are involved in this imaginary journey and who will tell the tales. Among the characters included in this introductory section is a knight. Chaucer initially refers to the knight as “a most distinguished man” (l. 43) and, indeed, his sketch of the knight is highly complimentary. The knight, Chaucer tells us, “possessed/Fine horses, but he was not gaily dressed” (ll. 69-70). Indeed, the knight is dressed in a common shirt which is stained “where his armor had left mark” (l. 72). That is, the knight is “just home from service” (l. 73) and is in such a hurry to go on his pilgrimage that he has not even paused before beginning it to change his clothes. The knight has had a very busy life as his fighting career has taken him to a great many places. He has seen military service in Egypt, Lithuania, Prussia, Russia, Spain, North Africa, and Asia Minor where he “was of [great] value in all eyes (l. 63). Even though he has had a very successful and busy career, he is extremely humble: Chaucer maintains that he is “modest as a maid” (l. 65). Moreover, he has never said a rude thing to anyone in his entire life (cf., ll. 66-7). Clearly, the knight possesses an outstanding character. Chaucer gives to the knight one of the more flattering descriptions in the General Prologue. The knight can do no wrong: he is an outstanding warrior who has fought for the true faith–according to Chaucer–on three continents. In the midst of all this contenton, however, the knight remains modest and polite. The knight is the embodiment of the chivalric code: he is devout and courteous off the battlefield and is bold and fearless on it. In twentieth century America, we would like to think that we have many people in our society who are like Chaucer’s knight. During this nation’s altercation with Iraq in 1991, the concept of the modest but effective soldier captured the imagination of the country. Indeed, the nation’s journalists in many ways attempted to make General H. Norman Schwarzkof a latter day knight. The general was made to appear as a fearless leader who really was a regular guy under the uniform. It would be nice to think that a person such as the knight could exist in the twentieth century. The fact of the matter is that it is unlikely that people such as the knight existed even in the fourteenth century. As he does with all of his characters, Chaucer is producing a stereotype in creating the knight. As noted above, Chaucer, in describing the knight, is describing a chivalric ideal. The history of the Middle Ages demonstrates that this ideal rarely was manifested in actual conduct. Nevertheless, in his description of the knight, Chaucer shows the reader the possibility of the chivalric way of life.

Search for the American Dream in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Search for the American Dream in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

What is the American Dream? Some believe in the nineteen fifties ideal created through television. Successful children, perfect families, and a happy stay-at-home mother are all associated with this version. Yet, everyone knows that the children are not always successful, there are family fights, and not every mother can be at home and happy. Many families have lifelong searches for the ideal American Dreams and never find one. These types of families are seen as failures. One family in this type of search is represented in Death of a Salesman through Willy, Linda, and their sons.

Willy Loman is the first character to represent the search of the American Dream. First, Willy has a strong belief of the American Dream because of his brother Ben. “Why boys, when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by God I was rich.” This quote by Ben is the bases of Willy’s beliefs for his family and himself. By this understanding, Willy thinks he will never need to search for anything; it would come to him. Next, Willy instills this same belief within his sons. “Listen to this. This is your Uncle Ben, a great man! Tell my boys, Ben!” When Willy states this to Ben he wants his boys to have the same thought on life as himself. Though, like their father, the two sons are led to the idea that greatness will come to them. Finally, Willy does not ever understand his search until the end of the play. “What-what’s the secret?” Willy asks Bernard this question which shows he is still searching for the key to the American Dream. At the end of the play, Willy believes that the only answer to the success of his family is through his death.

Linda Loman is the next character to represent her search for the American Dream. At first, Linda’s search is for good family relationships. After the big plans are made for the sporting goods shop, Linda’s spirits seem very high. Everyone in her family is getting along, therefore she is happy. These little perks of happiness are enough to keep her dream alive. Then, Linda has a more true view on her family’s search. Comments like, “Your such a boy,” and, “One a philandering bum,” are insights on what Linda sees within her sons.

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