Religion In The Knight's Tale Essay

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This paper sets out to examine the ways in which religion is fundamental to the understanding of the Canterbury Tales. The Knight's Tale and a number of other tales are set in a pre-Christian universe, where the old Pagan gods of Greece and Rome play an actively destructive role. The Knight’s thorough descriptions of the symbolic decorations in the temples of Venus, Mars, and Diana help shed light on the gods’ roles in human life. The walls in Venus’s temple depict not only the traditional sufferings of the hopeless romantic—sleeplessness, and burning desire, but also the wickedness love can cause—lust, jealousy, idleness, and adultery— conveying a more Christian, moralistic message. The walls of Mars’ temple display hypocrites, traitors, and murderers, along with disasters that have nothing to do with war. Diana is symbolically represented by a moon that is waxing, but soon to begin waning. Traditionally, she is the goddess of chastity and protector of virgins, but everything depicted on her temple’s walls suggests that she causes change. Many of the images are of friends or enemies that she transformed. The imagery in her temple suggests that there is no refuge from the transformations human beings must undergo in life. Although Saturn is not described, he echoes Mars. Saturn associates himself with drowning, strangling, imprisonment, poison, and other forms of vengeance. The…show more content…
Mars is typically associated as having a cruel, instinctual energy. Ironically only “Venus can dominate Mars, and he never dominates her” (Harvard 2010, On Love, speech 5, chap. 8). He is often portrayed along side her as being envious and jealous, or happy and divine. It’s easy to assume in a depiction of Venus and Mars together that love effects a soldier and can lead to the loss of a “warlike spirit” (Harvard

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