Lancelot:Or, the Knight of the Cart
Lancelot:Or, the Knight of the Cart
Summary:Thestory is narrated by author ‘Le Morte Arthur’, about King Arthurand his knights. The king is raised in another family as a boy, andbecome the king after successfully pulling the Excalibur sword fromthe stone. Despite his wise rulings, he is often at war with otherkings. Then king Arthur marries, he is handed the 150 round table byhis father. His wife is always at the table meetings with the knightsas she rewards those who behave well. The king goes into war with theRome and wins. The main unfolding of the story revolves around theking and his knights, his wife as well as the round table. After heand his wife, dies, the taking over king (Constantine)burnishes the round table
PartI. Identificationof Terms
Méléagant,Méléagant is the son of the king of Gorre, King Bademagu. He is atall and powerful knight. He imprisons the King Arthur’s ladies,knights and damsels and challenges the king that he has no resourcesto get them back. He instructs him to send a knight to fight him andif he wins promises to let the captives go.
Kay.Kayis a king authors steward who has served him for many yearsdiligently. He is on the side of the king when a knight delivers achallenge to the king to send another knight to fight him. Kaythreatens to leave King Arthur unless allowed to go and rescue someof the captured friends of the king. Despite the king sending thequeen to try and change his mind, he is relentless and goes to fightbut is defeated.
Guinevere.Guinevereis King Arthur’s wife. She is a queen and also has a secret affairwith Lancelot. She is sent by the king to try and beg Kay not toleave the King’s servant ship. She is also kidnapped by Méléagantand placed in a tower until rescued.
Camelot.Camelot is the place where King Arthur had held a magnificent courtone day. He had travelled from Caerleon to Camelot to the court. Healso had a feast in Camelot. It was in Camelot after the feast whereMéléagant showed up and challenged the King to rescue the people hehad captured.
Mariede Champagne.She is the author’s supporter and is shown as an influential personto the author. She inspires the author to write about romance and hedoes so as he is very devoted to her service. The author describesher as a beautiful lady who is incomparable to any other and leadsthe author to write about romance as he would do anything for her.
PARTII: PassageIdentification and Close Reading (No. 2, 4, and 5)
2.This text is extracted from where the King Arthur invites men to theround table. The section (round table) is the invitation of knightsand other men into the round table which was given to him during hiswedding. At the round table, all men were equal including him andtherefore abandoned their status once at the table. No particularperson was the head not even the king and therefore was a good placefor knights to congregate. Most of the individuals who met here werefriends. Through the meeting of the king and his knights, heimplemented the plans for impacting his rule over to other regionsaround his territory. It was more like his symbol of rule towards hispeople and the meaning of the roundtable was felt all over. The kingsrule was felt far and wide. The impact or the authority of KingArthur was spreading far and wide as he looked to impact the entireregions around him with his leadership style. The author has used thearound table as a sign of power as well as equality among the kingsand his knights.
4.The text from which passage number 3 is from the start of the bookwhen the author is talking about his supporter Marie de’ Champagne.The speaker in the text is the Author of the book, Chrétien de’Troyes. He interjects directly into the book by describing hissupporter Marie de’ champagne. He describes her as a beautiful ladywho is incomparable. He also sites that she is the one who asked himto write about romance and due to his loyalty to her that he would doanything for her, he does so. This is more of a dedication of theauthor of one of his work supporters, however, she isn’tresponsible for the story’s plot. This a show of the role of womenin the story by the author. At the start of the story, the author isseen flattering with Champagne, but at the same time showingseriousness when describing her. The extract serves as anintroduction into the authors love for her, and in turn the unfoldingof the many trials Lancelot faces fighting for the woman he lovesmore than his life.
5.The text is from when Lancelot meets a monk who directs him to theplace where slaves are held captive. The speaker in the text is themonk who describes to him the names of the people hidden. He alsotells him not to bother himself as he would never see the insidesince the lid that covers the place is so heavy to be lifted. He toldhim that it would require seven men to lift it and open it. However,Lancelot is not discouraged by this and still continues in his searchfor the queen. The disappearance of the queen has caused a lot oftrouble and disturbance to Lancelot, and he had to do whatever hecould do to find the queen. The freedom of the captives would only bewhen one manages to lift the slab. The knight moves forward and liftsthe rid to the prison with the slightest energy, and the monk wamazed by this action. The unfolding of the scenario is a depictionof how the knights were highly regarded in the region of theirstrength.
PARTIII: Relationshipbetween Lancelot and Guinevere
Lancelotis a knight in King Arthur’s kingdom serving the king. He is seenas the king’s greatest companion in the book by the king, trustinghim entirely with almost anything in his kingdom. He is also thegreatest knight in the land and respected by many. He is alwaysportrayed as handsome and gallant, respectful of women and he’sprobably what most people envision when they hear the term “knightin shining armor.”
Guinevereis the king’s wife and queen. She is seen as a beautiful and noblewoman who would do anything for the king at first. When sent to begKay not to leave the kingdom, but continue to be his servant, shedoes so with love for the king. She even gets captured for the sakeof the king by Meleagant while traveling with Kay. However, she isnot entirely in love with her husband as she later falls in love withLancelot despite the risks involved.
Lancelot,however eyes the queen having developed feelings towards her. He evenrefuses other women who are decently dressed. The love he had for theQueen is so evident that other girls stopped seducing him as theynoted that he was in love with another. At first she ignores andavoids places they can meet. However, their love for each other growsslowly and eventually they become lovers. They try to hide theirrelationship from the king since he trusts both of them. However, afew people suspect this affair.
Therelationship is courtly in nature. It occurs between a knight and aqueen. The relationship between the two is made harder by theirstatus. The fact that they were close to the king made it hard forthem to have a relationship that was open. The love between themmakes fidelity, hard to keep therefore the only way to be true totheir hearts was keeping the relationship a secret. Meliagauntconfronted the two in front of the king and his queen (ChreÌtien,1984). Lancelot viewed this as an insult despite it being true. In anattempt to hide the relationships he challenges Meliagaunt into acombat in order to reveal the truth. Fortunately, he manages tooverpower him restoring the honor of Lancelot and Guinevere. This actshows the extent to which both were willing to keep theirrelationship a secret. Lancelot risked his life for the sake ofkeeping the affair secret and in so doing protect the honor of thequeen.
Despitetheir honor being restored, rumors about their relationship among theother knights. Agravainand Modred, King Arthur`s nephew gathered 12 knights andstormed Guinevere`s chamber, catching her with Lancelot in bed(ChreÌtien, 1984).They seize her while Lancelot fights his way out of the castle. Sheis condemned to be burnt to death due to her infidelity. This showshow much was at stake for the two parties. Despite them knowing theharsh penalty of the affair if they ever get caught, they stillcontinued with their relationship.
Therelationship is also not socially accepted at all. This is evidencedby the deaths that follow it. First, Meliagauntdied because of implying its existence. Second the knights who catchLancelot and Guinevere in bed are against it and therefore purpose tounmask the truth. The death penalty placed on the queen also showshow the relationship was against the societal norms of the time. Uponhearing about the capture of the queen, Lancelot demonstrates hislove for her by going back and trying to rescue her from the kingdomin the process killing some knights. This shows the strongattachment, he had to Guinevere to the extent of risking his lifeseverally for her sake.
Therelationship defies the normal codes of honor. A knight was bound bychivalry which was the code of conduct. He was supposed to acthonorably in all his endeavors, including in his relationship withwomen. Lancelot goes against these demands of honor because of hislove for Guinevere. For example, he sacrifices his honor and ridesin a cart to rescue the queen when she was abducted by Meleagant. Thecart was reserved for the lowly members of the society and criminals.In so doing, he is mocked as no sensible man would embark on such anenterprise. The relationships lead to the breaking of the bondbetween different people. First the bond between the king Arthur andLancelot is broken upon discovery of his betrayal. The king evenattacks Lancelot’s camp in an attempt to avenge the betrayal, butis overpowered by Lancelot’s men. It also breaks the bond betweenthe king and his wife to the extent of allowing her to be condemnedto death.
Therelationship also shows how love can be a strong motivator. Gawainand Lancelot go to rescue the queen together ChreÌtien, 1984).However, Gawain does so for the sake of love while Lancelot ismotivated by is love for the queen. They also go through varioustribulations, but Lancelot is willing to risk everything, includinghis life to save the queen. For example, they are told by damselsthat the only way to reach the hiding place where the queen was onlythrough two dangerous routes: through the water bridge or through thesword bridge. However, despite this Lancelot is willing to takeeither bridge for the sake of the queen. They separate, but Lancelotkeeps on his quest for the queen as a result of love.
Healso survives many ordeals such as challenges from other knights,battle and lions all for the sake of the queen. He fights Melagantafter he refuses to hand over the queen peacefully despite his woundsshowing the great tribulations he was willing to endure. Eventuallyhe overpowers him and is stopped only by the queen. This shows howmuch Lancelot respected the queen and obeyed her. On the other hand,the love of the queen for Lancelot is shown when she wants to killherself after hearing of the faked death of Lancelot. Lancelot alsoattempts suicide after hearing that the queen is dead, but is savedby those near him. They, however learn that each of them is alive andreunite alive and forgive each other and consummate their forbiddenlove when Lancelot sneaks into her cell.
Thelove between Lancelot and Guinevere is portrayed as strong to theextent of differing any limitations. Each of them risks his/her lifefor the other demonstrating the extent to which they love each other.Each abandons the honor and risks all they have for the sake of theother. This proves the strong love they had for each other. Theauthor is the originator of the Arthurian romance, which has beendisplayed through the historical exploits of the king (Arthur), andhis knights, as well as the inclusion of the romantic resolutionsfrom the courtly love. This is the authors third of his fiveromances, which brings along the mentioning of Camelot as well asidentifying Lancelot as one of the greatest knights not forgettinghis love affair with the kings queen. The poem has revolved aroundthe kingship and his knights. The author has expertly managed tobring out the ‘quest, honor and chivalry, ‘mesure’/balance,fidelity, role of women among other themes into the story.
ChreÌtien.(1984). Lancelot,or, the knight of the cart = Le chevalier de la charrete.New York: