OPIC A:ORDER AND PASSION IN THE “KNIGHT’S TALE” Chaucer’s Knight seems concerned with meaning and order and there are noticeable attempts in the “General Prologue” (and in his tale) to make sense of what seems to be ruled by chance or the passions. As the Knight’s spokesperson Theseus has a sequence of codes for coping with life and speaks about them with authority and wisdom, yet underneath his ‘unwavering’ conservatism there lurks intense fear for anarchy even as it is repressed beneath the story’s controlled narrative style. • Examine Theseus’s fascination with order—both civic and cosmic—and his profound fear of disorder taking into account his social rank and chivalric duties. Consider in particular how successful this model sovereign, Christian, conqueror, and courtly lover, is in preserving the order he reveres.
TOPIC B: THESEUS”FAIRE CHAYNE OF LOVE’: A PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH TO BOETHIUS AND MEDIEVAL COSMOLOGY At the end of Part IV (lines 2129-2239), Theseus’ “First Mover’ speech, a circular structure like the arena itself, attempts to give an appropriate solution to all the questions the tales has raised. Most importantly, it attempts to account for the presence of evil in the world and, most intriguingly, to incorporate evil into a scheme that is ultimately purposeful. • Discuss Theseus’ interpretation of the events he has witnessed (and been part of); then juxtapose his views on providence, life, death, good, and evil against the views of Boethius, as those emerge in the Consolation of Philosophy. Consider in particular the extent to which Theseus’ views (on the topics above) confirm or contradict Boethius’ own. Source of possible Interest for both topics: https://opencanterburytales.dsl.lsu.edu/kntl/ Christine Chism, “Sisterhood and Brotherhood in the Knight’s Tale,” An essay chapter from the Open Access Companion to the Canterbury Tale (September 2017)







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