King Arthur: The Man Behind The Name

1005 Words5 Pages
King Arthur: The Man Behind The Name

King Arthur is a figure surrounded by an aura of myth and mystery. His name evokes visions of knights and gallantry in a bygone era of chivalry and magic. Clear the mist around the myth, however, and the character revealed is a man with flaws like any other. He is human as well as heroic. Arthur has assembled the greatest court of knights in British history, but his own condition and relation to those knights leads to the downfall of his court. Although Arthur and his court are held in highest esteem, time and again he is put into positions where the reader must question just how noble things are in Camelot.

King Arthur: Sir Gawain & The Green Knight

In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Arthur is described as light-hearted and boyish. He is restless and his "brain so wild. And also a point of pride pricked him in heart." These are not the qualities of a wise king, but rather describe a rash young man. When the Green Knight rides into his court, neither Arthur nor his knights make an attempt to stop him. Arthur does, however, step forward when the Green Knight asks who the captain of the crowd is. He accepts the Green Knight's challenge nobly, yet he also doesn't protest when Sir Gawain offers to take the blow for him. Arthur is noble and proud enough to take a challenge, yet human enough to let his nephew take his place.

King Arthur: The Wedding of Sir Gawain & Dame Ragnelle

Arthur is hunting a deer in Ingleswood in "The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle", when he is found by Sir Gromer Somer Joure. While Arthur has no problem killing the defenseless deer, he persuades Sir Gromer that it would be un-knightly to slay an unarmed man. It is revealed that Arthur has s...

... middle of paper ...

...ogeny. Arthur grovels before Gromer yet faces up to Mordred. He confronts the Green Knight yet defers the challenge to Gawain. He turns his head to Guinevere & Lancelot's deceptions for love of Lancelot and the fellowship of knights. In a legend cycle filled with many symbols, he is a symbol of the humanity of all great men, of all kings past and to come: the once and future king.

Credits

"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" The Norton Anthology

of English Literature. Sixth Edition. Vol. 1.

Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: Norton 1993 202-254

"The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell."

In Middle English Verse Romances. Ed. Donald B. Sands.

New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1966. 323 - 347.

Malory, Sir Thomas. The Morte Darthur. Parts Seven and Eight.

Ed. D.S. Brewer. Evanston: Northwestern University Press,

1996. 78 - 79, 136 - 141, 150 -155.

More about King Arthur: The Man Behind The Name

Open Document