E211 Fall 2010 Students' Blog

Scott Simmons on Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur

Published by admin_main on Mon 13 Sep, 2010

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’ last days on earth—to what extent is King Arthur a Christ-like figure for his people?)

6. Arthur told Sir Bedivere to throw Excalibur into the water and to report back to him what happened. Sir Bedivere doesn’t want to throw Excalibur into the lake one for its monetary value but that it would bring harm, great loss and no good. It would be a sin to throw away Excalibur.

Pg 451 (middle: “if I throw this rich sword in the water,)
Pg451 (“And yet him thought sin and sham to throw away that noble sword)
It seem that Sir Bedivere betrayed Arthur twice because something bad would
happen if he did throw Excalibur into the water.

The way Sir Bedivere wouldn’t throw the sword in the lake could be similar to
when Jesus was denied by one of his disciples. Pg 451 “Ah Traitor unto me and Untrue,”

There is also betrayal by Lancelot, then Sir Mordred, and now Sir Bedivere.

(Pg 448 How Sir Lanceleot had bereft him his queen)
(pg 449 Drawing of the sword to start accidental betrayal)

All of the betrayal seems to be too much for Arthur to handle,
but he gives Sir Bedivere a chance to redeem.

King Arthur was also taken away by people who cared for him similar to when Jesus was finally taken to the tomb. The people wept as Arthur’s death as they wept for
Jesus, Arthur and Jesus death could be similar in some aspects in how people reacted to the passing of a great man who helped many.

(pg 452) “Then Sir Bedivere cried”

King Arthur is similar to Jesus in where many knights believed that King Arthur would return from the dead to rule again.

(Pg 453 “and men say that he shall come again and he shall win the holy cross”)

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.

7. Chivalry can go along with Christian ideals such as knightly virtues, honor, and courtly love. Courtly love was a noble and chivalrous way of expressing love and admiration. The way Lancelot expresses his love to Queen Guinevere would be considered courtly love for he would always try to be act bravely, fight for his lady,
be virtuous and to keep their love secret.

Like Christianity there was a set of standard of (knightly) virtues that knights had to follow to be able to consider chivalrous. The final acts of Guinevere seem to follow that she wished to be with her husband. (pg 453 “ and Hither he cometh as fast as he may to fetch my corse, and beside my lord King Arthur he shall bury me”) Guinevere’s relationship with Lancelot was courtly love and did not want to see Lancelot just after her husband’s death. (pg 453 “I beseech Almighty god that I may never have power to see Sir Lancelot with my worldly eyes.”)While it seems that Lancelot was torn between his love for his queen and the duty he was to show his king. Lancelot knows that both the king and queen were noble and deserved to be together in the afterlife. It seems that Lancelot was trying to repent when he would not eat, he asked for communion.

(pg 454 So when he houseled and annealed and had all that a Christian man ought to have,”)

Some of The Knights of the Round Table go home to their own countries to become holy men. With King Arthurs death they went back home to their country to stabilize their lands. All of the betrayal has set most of the knights either into hermits or holy men. Such as Sir Bedivere who had betrayed Arthur last (pg 456 and Sir Bedivere was there ever still hermit to his life’s end.)

The rest of the knights “King Constantine would have them with him” pg 456
“but they would not abide in this realm.” Even though they are worthy knights they did not want to live in a land where they had betrayed their king, and would try to repent and die “for god’s sake.” Pg 456

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