ESSAY ON CANTERBURY TALES

Chaucer has differing viewpoints in his tales concerning Fate and free will. Some are pre-destined without the person knowing it and in some the person knows whats going to happen and can change it. In the “Knight’s Tale” and the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale”, these differing views are expressed.

In the “Knight’s Tale”, the fate of the two Knights is settled by the God’s they pray to. What the Knights do on the battle field has been decided for them, but they themselves don’t know what the outcome will be. This kind of Fate is the kind that you can’t change because you don’t know about it in advance. You think you have free will, but actually it had already been settled by the God’s as to the outcome.

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In the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale”, the fate of the rooster is revealed to him in a dream. With this scenario, he has free will to choose to believe the dream as true or to take it as just a dream. He tells one of his seven wives, the most beautiful one, about his dream, and she mocks him for being afraid of just a dream. He then tells different stories and gives examples of when dreams came true. Then he meets the fox that was in his dream while chasing a butterfly, and it attacks him and runs off into the forest with him. Everyone in the farm and all the animals chase after him and the rooster tricks the fox into opening his mouth and he quickly flies up onto a perch. The roosters fate was known to him, but he had free will and could change it, and so he did. He escaped from the fox.

As you can see, there are two different ideas about Fate and free will expressed here. Those two ideas are part of an important philosophical debate of today. That is if you can change your fate or not. It’s about free will. Some people believe that people have free will and can change their fate, while others believe that even though you might think you have free will, the outcome of your fate has already been decided for you and that there is nothing you can do to change it. Both these opinions are expressed nicely by Chaucer in the two tales.


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