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Assigned: from Morte D'Arthur (438-56).

From Morte D'Arthur

"The Conspiracy against Lancelot and Guinevere"

1. On 439, how does the author exploit the ancient myth of the seasons in relation to his story? What message is thereby suggested concerning the chivalric order and its ideal of human perfection?

2. On 440-41, when Sir Agravain and Sir Mordred make known their suspicions about Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere, how do their fellow knights and King Arthur receive the news? What problem does King Arthur introduce when he admits that Sir Lancelot is "the best knight among us all"? (441)

3. On 442-44, what impression of Sir Lancelot emerges from his successful fight to escape the snare set for him by his opponents?

"War Breaks Out Between Arthur and Lancelot"

4. On 444-47, when Sir Lancelot rescues Queen Guinevere from her trial and execution, what does King Arthur most lament about the current situation? What key event triggers the revenge cycle that is about to begin?

"The Death of Arthur"

5. On 448-49, a treaty is concluded but goes awry. What are the terms of the treaty? What mischance spoils it, and what lesson about violence and human "order" do we learn thereby?

6. On 450-53, King Arthur is mortally wounded even as he kills Sir Mordred. What final command does he give? Why does Sir Bedivere twice betray Arthur's command? What biblical overtones does the passing of Arthur carry? (Consider the Bible's accounts of Jesus's last days on earth -- to what extent is King Arthur a Christ-like figure for his people?)

7. On 453-56, Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot meet their respective ends. Chivalry is, of course, a Christian code, but how well do religion and chivalric ideals go together in this episode? Explain with reference to the final acts and thoughts of Guinevere and Lancelot as well as the remaining Knights of the Round Table.

Edition: Abrams, M. H. et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. A. New York: Norton, 2006. ISBN Package 1 (Vols. ABC) 0-393-92833-0.


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