Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

English Language and Literature


We first glimpse Chaucer’s Knight in a portrait-like description of him that Chaucer the narrator relays in the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer describes the Knight as embodying all of the necessary characteristics of a “verray, parfit gentil knight,” true, complete and noble (GP 72). In addition to this, he is a veteran of crusades and has gained an outstanding reputation through his deeds. Despite the Knight’s impeccable track record, he has a somewhat shabby appearance, which contrasts starkly with the ideals he embodies. Chaucer tells us “But for to tellen yow of his array,/ His hors were goode, but he was nat gay./ Of fustian he wered a gypon/ Al bismotered with his habergeon” (GP 73-76). This description calls into question the effectiveness of the institution of knighthood as a means of subsistence for the Knight, and invites a reappraisal of his own effectiveness as a knight. In essence, the picture Chaucer gives of the Knight is disjointed.