Throughout the Middle Ages, the medieval tradition used courtly love as a set of ideas about love to influence literature and its culture, which furthered the idea of true love being idealized and spiritualized by a man committing to the woman he loves. The opening lines of the narrator inaugurates the General Prologue of a descriptive imagery of spring’s continuation of rebirth, since birth occurs from courtly love. The April showers enter the dry month of March by moistening the roots and producing flowers from the ground. These basic propositions include the idea of love being a torment because when a man is in love, he is unable to sleep or eat, and undergoes many mental and physical changes, since all he ponders about is his love. However, her love is finicky, considering that he must show that he is faithful and brave, which is displayed in The Knight’s Tale, The Miller’s Tale and The Nun’s Priest’s Tale. Each tale demonstrates its obstacles to win their love’s heart, while fearing the arrival of another. Geoffrey Chaucer uses literary techniques to descriptively display each character’s motive in the acceptance or rejection of courtly love by applying satire to different aspects. The three tales had distinctive endings, but included attributes of courtly love in a very skillful manner, along with different plot twists taking place during different timings.
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The Nun’s Priest’s Tale is a fable that adapted qualities of courtly love to invent content. This tale revolves around a widow’s animals on the farm; instead of her, a notably cocky rooster named Chauntecleer, who is described as a heroic figure, wants to mate and survive. Not only that, but since he is the master, he considers other seven hens as his sisters and paramours. However, he is attracted to Pertelote because, she was courteous, discreet, debonaire, and companionable, and she conducted herself so handsomely that since the day she was seven nights old she had truly held the heart of Chauntecleer bound and captive (Chaucer 613). This demonstrates Chauntecleer’s feelings towards Pertelote regardless of the various options he has, since he is attracted to her beauty.
Similarly, The Knight’s Tale is a love triangle between the two knights Palamon and Arcite who fall in love with Emily after seeing her once. In the tale it states, You shall not love my lady Emily, for only I, and no others, shall love her. I am Palamon, your mortal foe. Though I have no weapon here, but have just escaped by luck from prison, let there be no fear: either you shall die or you shall not love Emily (Chaucer 113). This proves how competitive Palamon had become to win Emily against Arcite and was ready to die for her love, even if she was not interested at first. On the other hand, Arcite, rode to town, and before daylight the next day he secretly provided two suits of armor, both of them sufficient and suitable for deciding the lonely battle between them (Chaucer 115).
This shows how Arcite was equally ready to battle against Palamon, which is a sign of courtly love, since both of them did not give up for Emily. In the same way Chauntecleer is told to fight his dreams by Pertelote since she cannot love a coward who is afraid of dreams, and this is only happening to him because he eats a lot. She tells him to have digestives of worms for a day or two before you take your laxatives (Chaucer 619). Even though Pertelote stated she cannot love someone who is weak in front of his dreams, she still decides to help him by offering him advice with his eating habits so he wouldn’t lose his image as her husband.
Nevertheless, The Miller’s Tale shows how the carpenter’s wife, Alison, was unfaithful to her older husband, since she was attracted to Nicholas because of his attraction towards her, unlike Absalom, who presented himself very well as a gentleman, to display his love for Alison by singing and offering her gifts.
In the tale, it states, She loved pleasant Nicholas so much that Absalom could go whistle to the wind; he earned nothing but scorn for his labors; thus she made a monkey of Absalom and turned all his seriousness into a joke (Chaucer 217). This presents the idea of rejection of courtly love because Alison rejects Absalom, whereas Nicholas raised the window quickly and quietly stuck his arse out beyond the buttocks, as far back as the thigh bone (Chaucer 241), which demonstrates Nicholas’s lack of manners. Whereas in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, Chauntecleer tries saving himself from Russell, the fox and started to crow loudly for help, but Russell grabbed him by the throat and took him to the woods. On the other hand, Pertelote was so full of torment and rage that she threw herself into the fire of her own will and burned herself with a steadfast heart (Chaucer 639). Pertelote reacted in a very negative way because she stated that dreams aren’t influential and Chauntecleer answered with multiple stories of how dreams can be vital.
All in all, Geoffrey Chaucer used courtly love to define the various experiences of lovers in the Middle Ages, depending on their acceptance or rejection of courtly love. Courtly love was considered a myth especially in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale because human love was being compared to animal love, which are two different concepts being put into play as mockery. In The Knight’s Tale the importance of courtly love to two knights was revealed, considering their affection towards Emily, while willing to sacrifice death upon themselves. Finally, in The Miller’s Tale, lust was presented over courtly love, since it played an essential part in Alison’s life because she was married but disloyal to her husband.

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Throughout the Middle Ages. (2019, Jul 11).
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