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By Judson Boyce Allen
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Extra resources for A Distinction of Stories: The Medieval Unity of Chaucer's Fair Chain of Narratives for Canterbury
Our test case is the tale in the defining first position, the Knight's Tale. Axioms of Unity and Their Consequences I 25 The Knight's Tale presents Theseus's successful efforts to maintain the peace of Athens. The disturbance which receives most attention is the tangled romantic triangle of the warring brothers-in-arms Pala mon and Arcite and the unwilling Emelye. However, Theseus's part in this personal struggle, as the guardian of Emelye, and the emblematic significance of the three lovers' places of birth invest the love problem with implications for the order of family, society, and even man's place in creation.
Bersuire's statement is the clearest, and the nearest to Chaucer: Hie habetur quod postquam Samson mediante mala muliere Dalila fuit caesarie tonsus, et per consequens fortitudine privatus, statim Philistaei Axioms of Unity and Their Consequences I 29 ipsum ceperunt, et captum excoecaverunt, et excoecatum in carcere posuerunt, et incarceratum molere, et coram se ludere fecerunt, sed tamen post hoc factum est, quod Samson a Philistaeis excoecatus qui ipsum ex coecaverunt, simul in domo sui convivii ruina domicilii facta super eum, omnes perierunt.
37. 22. It is more than coincidental, we think, that Wayne C. Booth's theory of irony, whose fundamental focus is with much more modern literature, recognizes as one of the chief fea tures of irony that it presumes, and creates, sympathies and, ideally, uni ties between properly disparate elements. That is, when irony is properly understood, an intimacy is created between the ironist and his audience which overcomes the otherwise literal meaning of the communication. This sym pathy or unity is in modern times largely a feature of subjectivity; the rela tionship between medieval irony and medieval allegory implies that then it was more largely influential and related things and events as well as subjec tivities.