A Different View of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere
King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table have been the subjects of countless works of literature for hundreds of years. In many of these tales King Arthur is accompanied by his lovely wife, Guinevere. Not all of the Arthurian romances depict King Arthur and Queen Guinevere in the positive light that most people have become accustomed to. Thomas Chestre's Sir Launfal is one of these types of tales. This poem expresses different views on the normally idolized characters of Arthur and Guinevere while at the same time offering a comment on how people felt about the kingship in the 14th century. King Arthur is normally portrayed as a leader who is not easily manipulated but this is not the case in Sir Launfal. A trait of a good king that Arthur usually possesses is that he is not easily influenced. Unfortunately, this is not so with the Arthur in this tale. He is easily turned against Launfal by Queen Guinevere when she accuses Launfal of coming on to her. Even though Arthur knows how loyal Launfal is to him, he still flies into a rage. This is evidenced by "King Artour was well worth, / And by god he swor his oth / That Launfal shuld be sclawe." (Sir Launfal 721-23.) Guinevere is able to persuade Arthur with her womanly charms to kill one his most trusted knights. This is not an act that would be expected from the noble and loyal King Arthur without first investigating to get to the truth of the matter. Another trait of good leader that King Arthur normally possesses but does not in Sir Launfal is decisiveness. Arthur is in a rage over what Launfal had supposedly proposed to Guinevere but he still will not punish him without the consent of his council. When Guinevere lies to Arthur about what really happened between her and Launfal, Arthur is outraged and calls for Launfal's head. Arthur, as king, does not need anyone's approval for action but in this instance Arthur felt he needed the approval of...
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