141A term paper

141A term paper - Averbukh Ryan Averbukh Professor Jager...

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Averbukh Ryan Averbukh Professor Jager English 141A 3-14-08 Ethics of a Duel During the medieval period, being atop of the social ladder was an everlasting goal which every individual strived for. According to the medieval hierarchy system, knights were positioned towards the top of the social ladder, directly after dukes and kings. During this time period, knights were responsible for upholding God’s justice for the people because they were “chosen ones”. They were members of the noble class, which meant their presence was crucial for upholding sacred values such as love and respect. One of the most important ways to uphold justice was a duel, the noble solution for the medieval disagreement. As seen in the Knight’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer, it is not simply a violent battle to death, but rather a holy way of proving that honor is only given to those who deserve it. The knights’ intentions were always based on the chivalric ideals of honor and duty and these are the rules they followed to achieve success. By competing in a duel, Arcite and Palomon embody the most pure intentions and show that love is a value worth dying over. Both men prepare themselves mentally and physically to stand before God and defend their beliefs. In the rules set forth by Thomas Duke of Glouester, he presents similar ideas, but the focus is aimed towards holiness and honor. Glouester shows that a duel is a true test of equality under the watchful eye of the Almighty. A duel requires many spiritual and emotional events before any blood is shed. This is the key to unlocking a knight’s heart to prepare himself for either victory or slaying, even without the presence of any referees or onlookers. In order for a duel to be official, one of the most important elements is the oath or pledge given beforehand. Knights were expected to put their lives on the line for a noble cause but it had 1
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Averbukh to be done in a deliberate and official manner. In the beginning of the tale, the two knights, while imprisoned, decide to pledge an oath stating that they will protect each other when it comes to evil and will not interfere in the love proceedings of the other man: “Til that deeth departe shal us tweyne / Neither of us in love to hinder other / Ne in non other cas, my leve brother (Chaucer, 1132).” Stating your commitment to an oath such as this one was taken very seriously, and straying away from it would call for drastic action. Palomon was the first to profess his love for Emily, which meant he claimed the right to win her love. Arcite’s love interfered, meaning he broke the initial oath: a worthy reason for a duel. Before the duel is to begin, Arcite goes against his word by explicitly denying his claim of not intervening: “For I defye the seuretee and the bond which that thou seyst that I have maad to thee (Chaucer, 1607).” As a knight, this would go against the chivalric ideal of honor because your opponent now feels betrayed and taken advantage of. The bond between the two knights is
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141A term paper - Averbukh Ryan Averbukh Professor Jager...

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