The Knight is described by Chaucer (1340-1400) in the “General Prologue” as the person of the highest social standing amongst the pilgrims, though his manners and his clothes are ordinary. Chaucer begins the “General Prologue” with a description of the knight because of his position in society. During Chaucer’s time, the knight was considered as a man of honor, loyalty, and nobility.
He is the very essence of chivalry, honor, and courage. Similarly, he is the epitome of gentility, a man who loves truth, freedom, and honor. Everyone on the pilgrimage looks up to and respects him. Despite his elevated position, the knight is also filled with humility. Knight idealizes Chivalry. We are told that he has taken part in some fifteen crusades in many countries and also fought for one pagan leader against another.
More Notes: The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales
Chaucer does not only observe his clothes but also his nature. According to him, the Knight likes simplicity. He is accompanied by a Square. Chaucer describes the Knight in the following way:
‘A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the tyme that he first bigan
To riden out, he loved chivalrie”
He has won many battles for his people. He lacks pride unlike other knights of the era. Bravery and courtesy are the two major ingredients, which have been observed by Chaucer. The Knight, on many occasions, was awarded to be the head of the table. He stood behind his masters at the time of their feasting. The knight is a symbol of the upper class of the fourteenth century.
More Notes: Suggestions
However, the reader is supposed to believe that this same man is a formidable soldier on the battlefield who has killed many men during his campaigns. But Chaucer idealizes him for his simplicity and from a humanistic perspective.