The Canterbury Tales Essay

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In the following essay, Hanning compares "The Knight's Tale" with epics by Boccaccio and Statius to gain a greater understanding of the themes of nobility and order in the poem.

There is perhaps no better illustration of the processes of continuity and change in medieval literature than the relationship between Geoffrey Chaucer's "Knight's Tale" (1386?), first of the Canterbury Tales, and its literary antecedents, both proximate—Giovanni Boccaccio's Teseida delle nozze d'Emilia (ca. 1340)—and remote—the Thebaid of Statius (ca. 92 AD). Moreover, a comparison of Chaucer's poem with Statius's epic and Boccaccio's epic romance offers important clues to the meaning of one of the most problematic tales in the Canterbury collection.

To Boccaccio and Chaucer, and to medieval authors generally, Statius was the authority on the fall of Thebes, one of the most traumatic events of classical legend. Charles Muscatine, in the most influential, and perhaps the finest recent...

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This section contains 604 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Canterbury Tales Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
The Canterbury Tales from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.