Comparison: the Gospel of Mark and the Book of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Essay
Fidelity, or rather loyalty in a relationship, means making commitments that one cannot break down easily. Being loyal infers that one strictly adheres to promises one makes for the rest of his or her lifetime. In this context, loyalty is prerequisite ingredient of love. If one claims to love somebody, then he or she must maintain and observe the commitment he or she makes forever.
However, given that life involves living in a world of changing circumstances, many people find themselves caught up in between the challenges of breaking the commitments they had made to those they had acclaimed to love especially when the things that attracted them to those people fades. The book of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury tales contains numerous tales that cut across the theme of, love, honesty and loyalty. The concerns about love and loyalty raised in the book of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are more congruent with love and loyalty as written in the gospel of Mark.
Pity is an essential element of showing love to those who one cares, perhaps also congruent with the gospel of Mark, the description of the life of Jesus Christ- the son of God who was sent to deliver mankind from sin, pitied various people who were sick and healed them. In the Knight’s tale, the initial pilgrimage tale brings prince Theseus into perspectives. According to the context of the tale, love entangles showing concerns in terms of being empathetic to people. This definition is perhaps evident in women who had lost their husbands in Thebes.
One of the women requests Theseus to show pity on them since she, as well as the rest of the women she were with, had lost their loved husbands during Thebes’s war. The gospel of Mark upholds the position that the reason why God sent his only son was because of love with which He loved us. Consequently, the love explained in the book of Mark is the ultimate love that makes people volunteers of even their own life for the purposes of abiding to the promises.
In Knight’s tale, love and loyalty influence the lives of the characters differently in terms of both their familial and social lives. While Theseus and the soldiers were disposing dead bodies in Thebes, they came across two young people who had not died; namely Palamon and Arcite. Theseus imprisoned them for life. Palamon and Arcite happened to see a girl by the garden while in prison. Even though they were cousins, they both fell in love with her. Palamon kept praying to escape from prison to get ample time to stay with his newly found love.
Arcite, on the other hand, made it clear that he would better die than watch Emelye part with someone else. Both cousins kept on arguing while in prison over who was at a better position to be with the controversial lover. In fact, they branded each other traitors. Palamon kept on complaining about Arcite claiming that “And now thou…love my lady, whom I love and serve…I loved her first, and tolde thee my wo” (Chaucer 284-288). The two characters portrayed commitment to what they felt about Emeyle.
Pirithous demanded the freedom of his childhood friend: Arcite. Theseus granted the freedom on the promise that he would never come back to the kingdom of Theseus. However, on the other hand, though Palamon was left serving his sentence, he was much worried that Arcite would raise an army attach against Theseus in an attempt to make sure that he achieved his dreams: securing Emelye for himself. After being free for about two years, Arcite returns to Earthen to see his beloved.
To accomplish this, he needed to disguise himself. Palamon, on the other hand, had devised a working plan to escape from prison. He had settled on a plan for hiding outside the city as he waited to proceed to Thebes. Unfortunately, Artice and Palamon meet coincidentally within the same area and shed light to each other on what they felt about Emelye. Since they could not agree on who should end up with Emelye, they held that they should meet the following day at the same spot and fight for her. The winner was to posses her. In this context, the tale reveals the harm love can have even to closely linked people like the two cousins.
For complete fulfillment of true love, there must always be a cost incurred therein. According to the gospel of Mark, even Jesus Christ had to pay for the love with which he loved human kind: he had to give up his own life. To the two cousins, their portrayal of love for Emeyle was also something that would cost their lives as knight reveals later in as the tale proceeds. As the two cousins were fighting, they wore battle gear, something that made Theseus, Emelye and Hippolyta spot them as they were hunting and approached the fighting cousins.
Theseus stopped the war and revealed their true selves to Theseus coupled with their expression of their love for Emelye. Theseus ordered for their immediate killing. Pity, however, compelled the women to intervene and begged Theseus to have mercy on them. He agreed but with some preconditions that “they cannot declare war on anyone else except they must wage a battle against each other, with one hundred knights each, to decide whom Emelye will marry” (Chaucer 286).
Theseus had impeccable loyalty to his rules governing battles. According to the rules, when one party gets exhausted with war, he or she was supposed to free from the battlefield. Even in battle between Arcite and Palamon, the rules were to apply just as they would in other battle. Arcite attacked Palamon with lots of vengeance and pierced him with his sword.
Consequently he was declared the battle winner and hence thus the best candidate to marry Emelye. However, as Theseus was in the process of declaring him the winner, an immense earthquake struck causing immense ground trembling. As a repercussion, Arcite’s horse got frightened and threw him off. The resulting fall wounded Arcite badly and died. Before dying, he lamented, “Palamon was the most worthy man Emelye could marry” (Chaucer 289). Consequently, in this narrative, one may argue that love had negative consequences for both Palamon and Arcite.
Even though it never killed Palamon, at least it left him with wounds to heal. Palmon and Arcite are loyal to Emeyle, in the sense that they even sort sacrificing their lives simply to achieve what they ideally desired: Emelye. Nevertheless, one drawback is eminent; Emelye was never accorded the chance to give her stand on who she wanted. However, tantamount to Jesus’ love for humankind, as recorded in the gospel of Mark, more often than not, justification of love does not seek the opinion of the second party. Jesus loves us, and that was final. He never sorts to know whether we loved him back before he could die for us!
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. New York: Penguin classics, 2003. Print.
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