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Canterbury Tales Character Comparison Essay

A Comparison Of The Knight And The Squire In Chaucers The Canterbury

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In the medieval period that is described by Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, chivalry was perhaps the most recognized quality of a true gentleman. This quality is explored in Chaucer's two characters of the warrior class, the
Knight and the Squire. The squire is the son of the Knight; both ride gallantly and have the air of true gentleman warriors. However, the two are very dissimilar despite their appearances. The Knight possesses the true qualities of chivalry, devotion to service, constancy in humility, and honesty. The Squire possesses none of these qualities truly; instead his demeanor is one that is less honorable and virtuous. Although both claim the same vocation, the Squire and the Knight display contradicting attitudes in respect to…show more content…

Although Chaucer does not criticize the
Squire by his writing, the Squire's hesitant attitude towards putting himself in mortal danger as well as his lack of conviction are revealed in light of the Knight's numerous demonstrations of a willingness to defend his faith single-handedly and also in extreme hardship and distance.
In addition to Chaucer's descriptions of dedication that distinguish the
Knight, Chaucer also provides a description of the Squire's acquisitiveness for wealth and beauty, a quality that is contrary to the humble nature of the knight. The Squire had "locks as curly as if they had been pressed", while there is no such description of the Knight's appearance whatsoever
(5). I feel that Chaucer does not intend to criticize the Squire by the mention of the beauty of the Squire's hair in conjunction with the mention of the poor outfit of the Knight. Instead he attempts to point out that the
Squire is the lesser of the two in terms of keeping to the code of chivalry.
Regarding his articles of clothing, the Knight wore a fustian tunic, which was only somewhat bright and only sufficiently comfortable. An example of the Squire's meticulous appearance is:
He was embroidered like a meadow bright
And full of freshest flowers, red and white.
. . . He was as fresh as is the month of May.

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In the medieval period that is described by Chaucer's Canterbury Tales,

chivalry was perhaps the most recognized quality of a true gentleman. This

quality is explored in Chaucer's two characters of the warrior class, the

Knight and the Squire. The squire is the son of the Knight; both ride

gallantly and have the air of true gentleman warriors. However, the two are

very dissimilar despite their appearances. The Knight possesses the true

qualities of chivalry, devotion to service, constancy in humility, and

honesty. The Squire possesses none of these qualities truly; instead his

demeanor is one that is less honorable and virtuous. Although both claim

the same vocation, the Squire and the Knight display contradicting attitudes…show more content…

The Squire's clothing was clean and "bright", and so

this seemingly fitting dress is compared to the

"stained and dark" tunic that the Knight wore beneath his armor (5). These

articles of clothing are also unnecessary to the vocation of a knight. This

accounts for the Knight's plain armor and tunic while clearly showing the

Squire to be indulging in excesses. The Knight's humility is then revealed,

despite his worn-down appearance, by the Squire's exhibition of beauty.

Because of the previously described comparisons that depicted the Squire,

his sincerity is questionable. This is illustrated by the contradiction

between certain descriptions of the Squire:

He loved so hotly that till dawn grew pale

He slept as little as a nightingale.

Courteous he was, lowly and serviceable,

And carved to serve his father at the table. (5)

The first two lines suggest a tendency to waste time and energy on the

pursuits of women. This is supported by an earlier line where he fought "to

win his lady's grace" (5). The few battles that he pursued had been

motivated by the hopes of gaining these favors rather than the intentions of

the leader. These stand in contrast to his chivalrous performances before

his father and at the table, where everyone would be able to watch. It shows

that the real motivation behind the Squire is not based on chivalry; rather

it is the appearance of chivalry that he wishes to display. The Knight is

utterly sincere,

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