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Chaucers Use of Courtly Love

Chaucer's Use of "Courtly Love" Chaucer admired and made use of the medieval "courtly love" romance tradition, although he did not fully "buy into it." The "courtly love" code is based on the woman as the center of attention. The medieval knight suffers greatly for his love, who is often someone else's wife. He will do anything to protect and honor her, remaining faithful at all costs. Adultery and secrecy characterize these relationships. The knight views a woman and experiences true love. The knight fears that he will never be accepted by his love; therefore, she is worshiped at a distance. Elements of courtly love can be seen in both "The Book of the Duchess" and "The Knight's Tale." In "The Book of the Duchess" the Black Knight represents the courtly love character, who falls hopelessly in love with Lady White. Following the courtly love tradition, Lady White becomes the most important thing in the Black Knight's life. He describes her as the one true love that struck his eye with utter beauty."Among these ladies fair and bright,Truly one there struck my sight,Unlike the others, I declare,Because for certain I can swearThat, as the sun of summer brightIs fairer, clearer, has more lightThan any other planet in heaven,More than the Moon, or the starry seven,Just so for all the world did she Surpass those others utterlyIn beauty, courtesy and grace,In radiant modesty of face, Fine bearing, virtue every way-What more, thus briefly, can I say?" (lines 816-830)The courtly love tradition brings a powerful romance to "The Book of the Duchess." The Black Knight has found his true love; however, she has died. Her death is his deepest sorrow. The reader is made to feel for the Knight's great loss. The repetition of the lines: "Thou woost ful litel what thou menest: I have lost more than thou weenest" (lines 740-743; 1136-1142; 1300-1309) represents a progression of pain and sorrow; no one can understand the true sorrows of the k...

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