Lancelot and Tristram
The book Morte Darthur by Sir Thomas Malory is a compilation book that is filled with many stories of Arthurian legend. In Malory’s book is the retelling of the many well known knights in popular culture and of those who are relatively unknown. But the one of the most important elements of the book is the telling the story of the Knights of the Round Table. Malory’s stories do a great job of illustrating the story in such a way that makes it seem as if the reader was there experiencing it for themselves. Even though the most prevalent character throughout the book is King Arthur, Malory writes about two other knights who are of much important to the story the book tells. These two knights are Sir Lancelot and Sir Tristram. Before reading Malory’s book, I knew of King Arthur and of Sir Lancelot a little but I do not know of Sir Tristram. But after reading Morte Darthur, I am more knowledgeable of them and have a better understanding. It had also occurred to me that they had many similarities. Both knights were great and valiant. They were both portrayed as very loyal knights. But one of the biggest similarities between the two knights is the love triangles they were in which led to them deceiving their King. Because of the similar deceitful ways of both Sir Lancelot and Sir Tristram, I do not believe that they should be held in such high regard.
One of the first things that struck me when reading the tales of both Sir Lancelot and Sir Tristram was the fact that they were both great knights. One of the most obvious indicators of how these two were both great knights was the fact that they were both members of the round table. Both Sir Lancelot and Sir Tristram had fought in many battles and displayed their physical prowess during their battles and showed why they were often considered the greatest knights in the world. On the day when Sir Tristram first became a knight he was considered a knight that would fight to the end. We see signs of his greatness when he takes on two knights of King Arthur’s court: “Then they separated and came together as if it had been thunder. Sir Dodinas’ spear burst into pieces; Sir Tristram smote him with greater force so that he knocked him clean over the horse’s crupper, and he nearly broke his neck. When Sir Sagramore saw his fellow have such a fall he marveled at what knight this could be. He flourished his spear and came at Sir Tristram with all his might, and Sir Tristram came against him, and they came together like thunder. Sir Tristram smote Sir Sagramore a strong blow so that he knocked him and his horse to the earth. In the falling, he broke his thigh” (Malory 217). Before he even became a knight of the round table, Sir Tristram showed how powerful and mighty he was as a knight with his defeating of two Knights of the Round Table singlehandedly. The valor of Sir Tristram is often matched by that of Sir Lancelot throughout the book, which goes to show how similar the two are. Sir Lancelot, just as Sir Tristram had, fought battles that would seemingly be too overwhelming for any other knight and even to himself. One example of this would be when Sir Lancelot battled two giants by himself: “At once then, there came upon him two great giants, fully armored except for their heads, and each had a terrible club in his hand. Sir Lancelot raised his shield and blocked the stroke of one giant, and with his sword he clove his head in two. When his fellow saw that, he ran away like a madman, and Sir Lancelot followed after as fast as he could; he struck him on the shoulder and split him down to the navel. Then Sir Lancelot went into the hall. Sixty ladies and damsels came before him; they kneeled and thanked him and God for their deliverance” (Malory 146). Not only did he battle two giants by himself, he also battled Sir Aggravain, Sir Mordred, and twelve other knights. Lancelot, not being phased by being outnumbered,...
Malory, Thomas. Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte D’arthur: A New Modern Translation Based on the Winchester Manuscript. Ed. and trans. Dorsey Armstrong. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor P, 2009. Print.
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