Ecophobia and the Knight’s Tale

  • Shawn Normandin
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter discusses the Knight’s remarkable anxiety about nonhumans. The Knight’s Tale represents nature as a scary place, the object of ecophobia. The tale imagines humankind forever endangered by bestial chaos. Yet while Chaucer aggravates the luridness of his main source, Boccaccio’s Teseida, he also emphasizes the artificiality of the Knight’s storytelling. The artificiality renders the tale’s ecophobia ironic. A close reading reveals that fear of nonhumans is predominantly irrational in this tale: humans emerge as by far the most violent species, an extravagant threat to nonhuman life. Chaucer’s allegorical description of visual art works arouses fear of nature but also discloses the arbitrariness of such fear. The tale’s puns and play with letters further undermine ecophobic ideology.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shawn Normandin
    • 1
  1. 1.Sungkyunkwan UniversitySeoulKorea (Republic of)

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