A Character Analysis of Sir Lancelot

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A Character Analysis of Sir Lancelot Sir Lancelot, from the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, has become by far the most popular and well-remembered knight. Through Malory's rendition of traditional materials, we have inherited a character that has become the image of the quintessential knight. How is it that "the outsider, the foreigner, the 'upstart' who wins Arthur's heart and Guinevere's body and soul" (Walters xiv) has taken the place that, prior to Malory, was reserved for Sir Gawain? Malory has made this character larger than life. Of the grandeur of Lancelot, Derek Brewer says, "In the portrayal of Lancelot we generally recognize a vein of extravagance. He is the most obsessive of lovers, as he is the most beloved of ladies, and the greatest of fighters" (8). To achieve this feat, Malory has molded Lancelot to fit the idea of the perfect knight and the perfect lover. The perfect knight is defined by the Chivalric Code set out in Le Morte D'Arthur as "only to fight in just causes, at all times to be merciful, and at all times to put the service of ladies foremost" (Malory 69). In this code, Lancelot is to be found exemplary. To prove himself worthy as a knight of the Round Table, Lancelot must embark on a quest, and it is while on this quest that "A seemingly never-ending series of victories wins him the title of 'the best knight in the world' dedicated to defending the rights of the weak and the oppressed" (Walters xxi). The perfect lover is a bit easier for the modern reader to understand, as it is much the same as today. To prove himself the perfect lover, Lancelot defends the honor of his Lady above all, denies himself the pleasure of all other ladies, and accepts whatever might... ... middle of paper ... ... of all Christian knights: none could match you! You were the most formidable in battle and the most courteous in manners; in the company of warriors the most courageous, and in the company of ladies the gentlest of men, and in a righteous cause implacable. And of great lovers surely you were the truest. So it is you shall be remembered" (Malory 507). Works Cited App, August J.. Lancelot in English Literature, His Role and Character. New York: Haskell House, 1965 Brewer, Derek. The Presentation of the Character of Lancelot. Lancelot and Guinevere, A Casebook. Ed. Lori J. Walters. New York: Garland, 1996. 3-27 Malory, Thomas. Le Morte D'Arthur. Trans. Keith Malory. New York: Mentor, 1962 Walters, Lori J.. Introduction. Lancelot and Guinevere, A Casebook. Ed. Lori J. Walters. New York: Garland, 1996. xiii-lxxx
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