King Arthur and Its Variation Through the Ages

Topics: King Arthur, Le Morte d'Arthur, Knights of the Round Table Pages: 10 (4289 words) Published: June 19, 2013
The War between Good and Evil:
The King Arthur legend and its Variations through the Years
by Sana Mahfooz - 35071
April 20, 2010

Outline:
I. Introduction
II. Body
A. Legend of King Arthur in Literature (prose only)
1. First King Arthur Book in English – Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte D'Arthur"
a. Narration of story
b. Male dominant concepts
c. Life for women in that society – the portrayal of women d. The attitude of the nobles towards commoners and the lesser nobility
e. Concept of fidelity
f. Oath of the Knights
g. Downfall of the Knights of the Round Table h Quest for the Sangreal (the Holy Grail)
i. The forbidden love of Launcelot and Guenever
j. Mordred's betrayal
k. Death of King Arthur
l. End of the legend

The War between Good and Evil:
The King Arthur legend and its Variations through the Years

The legend of King Arthur and his knights is a timeless classic, loved by people all over the world. It tells of the battle between good and evil, and how the line between the two can sometimes blur beyond recognition. It is the portrayal of this eternal struggle of man that makes this tale unique, timeless and everlasting. However, this legend has undergone many variations through the years. As times changed, the views of the society changed as well. The legend of King Arthur went through several adaptations, when the authors decided that some particular events were immoral or went against their belief. From the earlier versions to the latest ones, many events in the King Arthur legend have been changed significantly, altering all but the most important details, and these alterations give insight to the views of the society at the time the variation was created. The first King Arthur book to be published in English was Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur. In this book, the author combined numerous tales from French and Welsh poems and texts. In the process, he created a fantastical and enchanting tale of nobility and true heroism. However, on evaluating this book it becomes clear that the definition of nobility was very different in that time. The concept of the all powerful male is very dominant in this tale. It starts with the story of Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon. A powerful, charismatic man, he was, at the time "king of all England" (Malory a, 1485, p. 17). His most powerful enemy was the Duke of Tintagil, whose wife was the beautiful Igraine. Seeking a peaceful solution, Pendragon invited Tintagil and Igraine to his castle in order to work out the terms of a peace treaty. When he saw Igraine, he desired her but she refused him. In order to achieve his selfish means, he enlisted Merlin's help, making a bargain that in return his first born would go to Merlin, to be cared for as he deemed best. Merlin then used enchantment to make Uther look like Tintagil so Igraine would receive him in her bed without protests or complaints; it was that night that Arthur was conceived. At the same time, Tintagil died in a battlefield fighting Pendragon's men. This does not live up to what we now consider to be the standard of nobility, but in those days, sleeping with another man's wife was not considered a great offense. Even so, the wife was deemed a traitor as she had betrayed her "lord and master", while the man she was married to was shamed. The man who had caused all the trouble was not affected at all by what he had done and did not consider himself to be at fault. After all, all he had done was seduce another man's wife (Malory a, 1485). In that society, life for the women was unbearable. They did not have much say in their lives, and were usually considered to be at fault for all real and perceived transgressions. In Malory's book, there are many notable examples...

References: Malory, T. (1485) a. Le Morte D 'Arthur, volume I (of II): King Arthur and of his
noble knights of the round table. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/
files/1251/1251-h/1251-h.htm
Malory, T. (1485) b. Le Morte D 'Arthur, volume II (of II): King Arthur and of his
noble knights of the round table. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/
files/1252/1252-h/1252-h.htm
McGregor, M. (1905). Stories of King Arthur 's Knights Told to the Children.
Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25654/25654-h/25654-h.htm
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