The Knight's Tale

Woodblock printers look at a man working on a computer

Two youge knightes ligginge by and by,
Bothe in oon armes, wroght ful richely,
Of which two, Arcita highte that oon,
And that other knight highte Palamon.

“The Knight’s Tale” tells the story of two knights, Arcite and Palamon who are captured and imprisoned by Theseus, duke of Athens. The knights are cousins and sworn comrades but their friendship quickly breaks down as they compete for the love of the same woman - Emily.

“Emma and The Blue Knights”

by Becca Garfinkle, Bryn Mawr ‘20

In Athens, Georgia at the start of spring,
All across the fields the lacrosse sticks swing.
Two bros, Pal and Arc, fight for the Blue Knights.
Together they have never had any fights.
Until, a girl they both saw in math class.
Arc called dibs, as he is a total ass.
Pal challenged him as he saw Emma first.
Emma was not consulted. Men are the worst.
Seuss, the team captain, decided on the clash.
Polly, his girlfriend, agreed in a flash.
Emma dragged by her sister would attend,
Although she would leave without a boyfriend.
They both picked teams for the battle to come,
Pal picked first, Litty, a nice guy but glum.
Arc chose, Trey, who’s as quick as a leopard.
Seuss gathered a crowd like a proud shepherd.

Pal hears the crowd outside the locker room,
The chatter and murmurs fill him with doom.
He thinks only of her, not the battle.
Love Actually and Sleepless in Seattle,
Were his inspiration to catch her eye.
Wearing the rose cologne his mom made him buy,
He anxiously checks his Twitter feed.
What to say to ensure he would succeed?
“I really like her, I hope she says yes!
#lovewins #romcom.” But he could only guess.
He should have gotten flowers, red or white?
He couldn’t decide neither was quite right.
It mattered not, there was only one goal,
An alluring girl to take on a stroll.

Emma sat in the stands texting away,
Ignoring the match as the boys would play.
Polly nudges her, “Which one do you prefer?”
Emma shrugs, “Neither, both, they’re a blur.”
“You aren’t hoping for a new friend?”
“Those friends always disappoint in the end.”
“Why did you even come if not to choose?”
“To put it plainly I came to refuse.
These boys think a lacrosse game will win me?
As if, only I can choose who to see.
I pick no one.” Emma would not be swayed.
Polly chewed her lip hoping to persuade,
“At least keep your mind open. Take this quiz.”
“Buzzfeed? Really? Those tests are all a swizz.”
Polly persisted and Emma started the test.
‘First, which wild animal do you like best?’
The king of the forest, the gentle stag.
‘Alright select your favorite tea bag.’
Emma clicked away, question by question.
The results proclaimed, “Here’s a confession,
You are dying to meet that special someone.”
Polly squealed, “Well wouldn’t that be fun.”
“I would rather keep clear of all the guys.”
“You don’t know that. A quiz never lies.”
Emma doubted that. She didn’t want a boy,
But if he was true she wouldn’t play coy.

Arc shot the ball, it crashed into the net.
He would win, he had to, Pal was no threat.
The weekend was spent with blistered fingers,
The only break to craft nifty zingers.
Pal would be crushed like in their Black Ops games.
He would be the champ or go down in flames.
A wicked idea came to Arc, to goad Pal,
Send him a malicious Tweet he shall.
He retrieved his cell phone, a blood red beast,
“My fury on the field will be unleashed,
I will be the winner there is no doubt.
#ballislife #itsgonnabeashutout.”
With polished white gear, he turns to the field,
Ready to face Pal, crosse held as a shield.

It is now time the battle will commence,
The foes stand opposed. The crowd is all tense.
Two of three goals will make them a winner
And see who will take Emma for dinner.
Seuss judges the face off, “I want a clean game.”
Arc grabbed the ball first with an air of fame,
Dodge, sprint, a quick dance, the ball strikes the net.
The first point is done, Arc didn’t break a sweat.
Pal has the ball now, a flick of the wrist,
A pass to Litty, who has never missed.
Just like that two goals, one to one, a tie,
In quick succession, both shots a bull’s eye.

The last round, one point left, still anyone’s game.
The crowd is jubilant, Emma mutters “Lame.”
Pal and Arc circle, tension hung heavy,
Emotion crashing against the levee.
Pal moved first, snatching the ball from the ground.
Arc followed, Pal dodged, but he was surrounded.
Trey checked Pal, hard, he was knocked to the dirt,
Dirtied and bruised but otherwise unhurt.
Arc scoops the ball, tosses it straight to the net,
The third point, Arc had won. He had no regrets.

Pal lays in the dirt, resound in his fate.
Arc walks to Pal, “Thought you could win mate?
We both know I’m the better player,
And I’m known as a lady slayer.”
He winks at Emma. She has heard it all,
She stormed over. She would be his downfall.
“Ah my Emily, ready for a date?”
“It’s Emma. You are as dumb as slate.”
Arc was taken aback, “But I won you?”
“A person cannot be won, you cuckoo!
I would never date someone so graceless.
Men like you are society’s abscess.”
Arc blinked at her slowly, “So it’s a no?”
“Yes it’s a no, go give your ball a throw.”
Emma helped Pal up, “How are you feeling?”
“Fine, but I think my pride is still reeling.”
Emma smiled, “Want to go get a coffee?
I want to try this new one with toffee.”

Pal and Emma depart. Arc is stricken,
He is as lost as a headless chicken.
The team approaches, “Bro she just murdered you!”
“Shut up! You are supposed to be my crew.”
“Okay, but dude, she came and ended your life.”
“Doesn’t matter, Pal can have the strife.”
Thus ends the tale of the two Blue Knights,
Pal and Emma see all the city’s lights,
While Arc was slain by a slight fair maid,
All after one short lacrosse game was played.

“Emmy’s Story” from The Middlebury Tales

by Gwynne Dulaney, Bryn Mawr ‘20

This adaptation of “The Knight’s Tale” is part of a larger adaptation of The Canterbury Tales called The Middlebury Tales. Set in a high school, the adaptation takes the form of a YouTube vlog.


JANE: the “host” of our tales. She’s a shy, artsy, awkward high school senior who is not sure what to expect with this final project that she has to do. She’s an aspiring filmmaker. A very naïve girl who has not been exposed to a lot of social issues in her life. She is interviewing girls in her high school about female storytelling for her Chaucer class, and is filming the interviews and posting them online as a “vlog.”

EMMY: A hip and progressive leader in many of Middlebury High’s extracurricular clubs, including Rainbow Alliance and Greenpeace. Very hippy and crunchy-granola. She’s very opinionated and also beautiful, but compliment her on her looks and she will be livid. It makes her angry because it follows society’s belief that women only need to be beautiful. Recently, a very nasty rumor went around about how she pitted two guys against each other who wanted to date her for the attention.


[An empty classroom. JANE sits in front of camera. She looks unsure of herself. She leans forward and adjusts the angle of the camera.]

JANE: So…hi? I guess? No, this is weird.

[Cut to JANE waving awkwardly at camera.]

Hello…internet…? Nope. How do I do this?

[Cut again to JANE taking a deep breath in determination.]

Ok, SO. These videos are a part of my final project called The Middlebury Tales after my high school, Middlebury High. I’ll be uploading them every few days, and I’m starting it this early in April because this will probably take awhile. Our teacher wants me to do something about female storytelling, but since I’m a film person I decided to do the project as a bunch of interviews. I have a list of girls from my high school to interview about, um, storytelling I guess. Let’s see, I have an interview with Emmy Higgins, who runs a bunch of clubs so she probably has a lot to stories about women and leadership…. I hope. There’s also Connie, who just moved here from Italy. And May Albright, who just had that whole scandal with Mr. Winters recently. Oh, and I want to interview Becca G., who’s running for class president. [To herself] She also just has great red lipstick. [To audience] So yeah. My name is Jane Carmichael, and this is the Middlebury Tales, I guess. Let’s see what happens with this.


[Video opens on EMMY in front of the camera. She looks bored and slightly confused. JANE is out of frame behind the camera.]

EMMY: So what, I just start talking?

JANE: Basically.

EMMY: I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m not a “storyteller” or whatever.

JANE: I was just hoping you’d talk about Rainbow Alliance or Greenpeace or something.

EMMY: Ok. Well, obviously they’re both my passion project. I put my all into them since, you know, no one else in this school seems to give a damn.

JANE: Why do you think that is?

EMMY: Because they’re all morons. Well, at least 90% of them are. I mean…

[Beat. She narrows her eyes.]

Jesus Christ. Not you too.

JANE: What?

EMMY: You believe all that crap about how I’m some ditz doing all this for college apps, don’t you? And this is some way to make fun of me for it? Public humiliation?

JANE: What? No!

EMMY: Because it’s not true.

JANE: I didn’t mean – I just asked you to do this because you’re so involved. That’s all.

EMMY: Sure.

JANE: I mean it! All those rumors about you and those guys Pal Smith and Archie Jackson –

EMMY: Wow, nice.

JANE: … Are lies.

EMMY [Rolls her eyes]: Whatever you say.

JANE: Honestly, now that I think about it, it’s a perfect topic for this. Why don’t you tell me your side of it?

EMMY [Squints suspiciously]: My side of it?

JANE: Well, yeah. Everyone says that you pitted them against each other…

EMMY: Absolute garbage.

JANE: So? What happened?

EMMY: …You’re being legit, right? This isn’t some weird scam to make me look bad?

JANE: Promise. I just want to hear your side of the story.

EMMY: …Fine. Ok.


So it was a Thursday, right after my sister starting dating Theo Grey. I was on my way to a Greenpeace meeting… I think I was in the courtyard by the dining hall, when this guy I’d vaguely seen around, Pal Smith, came running up to me out of nowhere and cried “Ah! Emily!” and just started rambling on about how he’d had a crush on me forever and had been pining away from afar –

JANE: Super creepy.

EMMY: Yeah. I know that everyone thinks he’s all sweet and sensitive with his notebook and his glasses, but he’s a prime example of Nice Guy Syndrome. He puts you on this pedestal, you tell him no, and he plays the victim. Anyway, he’s busy telling me about how he doesn’t know whether I’m a woman or a goddess, when this other guy, Archie, came bolting in and started talking about how he’d had a crush on me forever. It was honestly surreal. Like I’d never talked to either of them before, and they were just proclaiming their undying love for me out of nowhere. What is this, the 15th Century?

JANE: With guys these days, you wonder sometimes.

EMMY: So there I was, with these two weirdos confessing their undying love for me, and I told them, “Thanks but no thanks. Not interested.” And you know what? They start arguing with each other and they completely ignore me! It’s like a ghost is talking to them.

JANE: Are you kidding me?

EMMY: I wish I was. Then they decide in true macho fashion that the only way to settle this is with a car race.

JANE: This is positively medieval.

EMMY: It’s ridiculous. So I tell them yet again that I don’t want that, they can spare the whole mess, and yet again they ignore me. This is why I try so hard to be in leadership positions and stuff. Everyone makes assumptions about me because of how I look.

JANE: You being attractive and a woman of color doesn’t give them the right to treat you like an object.

EMMY: They were fighting over me like I was some trophy for them to win bragging rights over. It was awful. And you know what the worst part of it is?

JANE: What?

EMMY: My girlfriend was right all along.

JANE: …You had a girlfriend this whole time?

EMMY: Yep. We’ve been dating for about 6 months now.

JANE: Mind if I ask who?

EMMY: Missy Deus. She’s head of the archery club and just got her Gold Award for Girl Scouts.

JANE: Yeah, I think she’s in my calculus class.

EMMY: When I told her about all of this later, you know what she said? “Why are you surprised, Em? You’re a queer woman. Of course they don’t care what you think.”

JANE: Did they know you had a girlfriend?

EMMY: They should have. I am president of Rainbow Alliance and talk about being a queer woman quite a lot. Plus I only mentioned it to them about 500 times when this was all happening to try to get them to shut up.

JANE: Wow.

EMMY: It just makes me so angry that just because I’m pretty, queer and a woman of color, people assume that I don’t have brains or an opinion.

JANE: So what happened next?

EMMY: Well, they had the stupid race. They had the nerve to ask me to be the girl who waves the flag to tell them when to start. You know, the one every movie objectifies and makes sexy for no reason? Anyway, Pal was trying to be all sweet and tell me how he just wanted to prove his love for me and just hopes that I can see that now. Archie, on the other hand, wasn’t even trying to be subtle about it. He was just going on about how he was going to kick Pal’s ass and he had the strength of a war god or something. Everyone was there, you probably heard about it.

JANE: Yeah. I heard about what happened at the end too.

EMMY: That was on them, not me. They were the ones driving like idiots.

JANE: Did you hear that weird rumor about how something ran in front of Archie’s car and that’s why he swerved?

EMMY: Yeah, but I honestly think he did it to himself because he was trying to cut in from of Pal’s car. Whoever started that is just trying to make him look heroic.

JANE: Have you heard anything about how he’s doing?

EMMY: He got a concussion and broke his arm, but he was really lucky honestly. A few more inches and he would have plowed into that tree head-on instead of just scraping it. But they both got what they wanted, I guess. Attention and validation.

JANE: So what about the rumors?

EMMY: Complete bull. Why would I egg them on when I didn’t even want them there in the first place?

JANE: I don’t know. Why do you think that that rumor started?

EMMY: Because this school needs to blame someone for what happened, and gods forbid that blame goes to the straight white male that actually did it. Plus they’re mad at me because I didn’t feel terrible after what happened. They did it to themselves. No, they needed someone to blame, and I’m already the weird hippie girl who’s openly queer and doesn’t want to date idiots like Pal and Archie for some reason, so they blamed me. Plus they’ve already labeled me in their head as someone who would start drama for the attention, so why not try to make it a reality? They label me as a ditz, but the second I put my foot down and voice my opinion, I’m a witch.

JANE: Have you tried talking to the school administration about it?

EMMY: Where would that get me? You saw how they treated Becca G. when she went to them about that creep Liam. Look the other way and pretend it didn’t happen. Or maybe they just think it’s ok. Either way, they’re useless.

JANE: Do you think this reflects queer women being silenced or objectified in society?

EMMY: Oh, absolutely. They want what they can’t have, and it’s completely erasing queer identity at this school. It reflects how queer people’s voices aren’t even heard once a straight person enters the room.

JANE: Emmy, thank you for talking to me. I really appreciate it.

EMMY: Honestly, I was a little worried when you asked me to do this, but now I can truly say, my pleasure. Make the world know what lies they’re hearing.