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Imperfect Heroes and the Consolations of Boethius: The Double Meaning of Suffering in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale

Imperfect Heroes and the Consolations of Boethius: The Double Meaning of Suffering in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale

Camarda,  Peter F.

Medieval Forum, vol. 1 (2002)

Abstract

This paper examines an ambiguity in Chaucer’s vision of passionate love in The Knight’s Tale. The tale is usually seen as a courtly romance: the characters suffer in the name of a romantic, pagan love and the resolution appears to turn around the issue of marriage and physical consummation. This paper argues that Boethian ideas provide a counter-argument to the courtly perspective. For Boethius, passionate love is a false ideal, and Chaucer’s treatment of Arcite’s and Palamon’s romantic suffering, when examined closely, suggests a Boethian theme of renouncing carnal passion and trusting instead to “stable faith” in the Christian God.

 

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