"The Knight's Tale," Chaucer's first character-led story in The Canterbury Tales, explores gender relations and notions of marriage in medieval England.
The Knight, a man of chivalry and little means, tells the tale of an ancient love triangle. For, as luck should have it, two men imprisoned in a jail cell fall in love with the same woman, Emily. Locked in their cell, the men may only steal glances of Emily as she walks outside their prison window. The Knight provides an account of each man's escape from prison, search for Emily, and battle to win her heart.
Critics have said that Chaucer's work can relate to the contemporary society. A story such as "The Knight's Tale" lends support to critics' opinions. While the exact situation Chaucer describes - men in prisons falling instantly in love with one woman and leading ultimately to a sword against sword battle - may not be something of the twenty-first century, many elements of the tale are... Or, I would like to think so.
I would like to think that a man would put up a decent fight to win the girl of his dreams. I don't mean a gun and swords duel, but dedication and perseverance to within a reason. I'd like to think that love can conquer adversity. And, Chaucer's admittance that a marriage should always result in a happy wife - well, that's not too shabby either.
Emily has a voice and a role within this tale. She proves to be someone who is not easily won over and is a happily independent woman. The described gender relations seem very modern considering Chaucer wrote in the 1380s.
I'll admit that I am starting to see where the Chaucer fuss comes from.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics, 2006.