Queen Guenever in The Once and Future King

Queen Guenever in The Once and Future King

Length: 1053 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
In the novel The Once and Future King, by T.H. White, the character, Queen Guenever, is depicted as a confused and lost woman in an arranged marriage. She had an internal struggle with a shameful secret, an affair with the ugly knight, Lancelot. In the time of King Arthur, women were limited to what they could do, and what decisions they were able to make. She ultimately made some wrong choices in her life, which led to the disapproval from those around her. She was in her marriage by force and had no malicious intensions, but did what she felt she needed.
Guenever’s dialogue with Lancelot shows signs of guilt, but an overall distinct feeling of love. On page 549, she states that “You (Lancelot) will be killed, and I shall be burned, and our love has come to a bitter end.” The love she has for Lancelot is obviously strong, enough for her to accept her own demise. This sad articulation of her love for him is quite powerful. She understands her actions, and also shows signs of paranoia. She claims, on page 567, that “Tristram used to sleep with King Mark’s wife, and the king murdered him for it.” Guenever is thoughtful of what’s to come, for both her AND her partner. It is obvious that she knew she could not always “have her cake and eat it too.” As a woman, suffering through the psychological battle of “what is right”, Guenever had an awareness of her love and it’s outcome.
A few characters in The Once and Future King knew about Guenever’s secret and wanted to exploit her and take care of personal issues, while others were completely oblivious to the affair. King Arthur, for example, “hated knowing the future and managed to dismiss it from his mind”, as told on page 335. He knew, from Merlyn’s warning, about the affair and was too nice to believe in it. Weakness and ignorance flooded his mind, as it was right in front of his face. Mordred and Agravaine, on the other hand, hated Lancelot and Arthur, and manipulated Guenever’s private life to fit their desire of killing them. Their scheme is explained on page 522, when Agravaine cunningly states that “(he would kill them) not by using force against force, but by using our brains.” In a mischievous plot, Arthur would be given actual proof of the affair and, in time, he and Lancelot would eventually obliterate each other.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Queen Guenever in The Once and Future King." 123HelpMe.com. 19 Nov 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=162162>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Code of Chivalry in The Once and Future King Essay

- The Code of Chivalry in The Once and Future King       T.H. White's novel The Once and Future King presents a code of chivalry that outlines the expected knightly behavior of the time. This particular code stresses loyalty to one's liege, love and respect toward women, and absolute devotion to justice. At the height of Arthur's kingdom, this code was widely accepted by all. However, as Arthur's kingdom begins to decline, the code of chivalry begins to hold less importance among the people....   [tags: Once and Future King Essays]

Research Papers
1147 words (3.3 pages)

Life's Lessons in The Once and Future King Essay

- Life's Lessons in The Once and Future King "The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then -- to learn....   [tags: Once and Future King Essays]

Free Essays
1094 words (3.1 pages)

The Once and Future King Essay

- ... Mordred is either Arthur’s son or nephew by his sister Morgawse. Mordred seizes Arthur’s throne whilst he is away and in ultimately slain by Arthur, but not before fatally wounding the king. Arthur is then said to have retreated to Avalon, where he waits to once again take his place as king, earning him the title the Once and Future King. Arthur’s knights were his most trusted friends and family, but ironically, he is betrayed by the best of them. The most reputed of Arthur’s knights are Sir Lancelot and Sir Tristram....   [tags: King Arthur, English legends]

Research Papers
1399 words (4 pages)

"The Once and Future King" and "A Great and Terrible Beauty" Essay

- Literary archetypes are universal models or patterns that characters are based on, they aren’t necessarily stereotypes. Archetypes can enhance or degrade the novel depending on their quality. Fantasy novels are heavy with archetypes, possibly more than any genre. T.H. White and Libba Bray break through the wall of the norm and expand the archetypes of the sage, the shrew, virgin huntress and the reluctant hero in both novels The Once and Future King and A Great and Terrible Beauty. Without a doubt, Merlyn is a vital component to Arthur’s destiny to become the greatest king of England....   [tags: Literary Archetypes, T.H. White, Libba Bray]

Research Papers
1212 words (3.5 pages)

The Once And Future King - Mig Essay

- The Once and Future King The legend of King Arthur is a tale as timeless as any other found in literature today. Introduced to us by Sir Thomas Malory during the fifteenth century in Morte d' Arthur, it was the first complete tale of Arthur's life. Countless portrayals followed for any reader interested in the tale of the boy who was destined to become King. The Once and Future King by T.H. White is certainly the most popular representation of the immortal legend of King Arthur. It is similar to the tales woven before it but White gives new meanings and modernization to the traditional story through his unique perspectives and writing....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
1080 words (3.1 pages)

The Once and Future King Guenever Essay

- The Once and Future King Description of Guenever Guenever is one whose personality and appearance fluctuates often during the course of her life. The facts that she fell in love with someone other than her husband and that she never bore a child contributes greatly to these abrupt and drastic changes. The description of Guenever as a young wife is one with deep, clear blue eyes, which almost beheld a sort of fearlessness which was startling, as was her black hair. Although Gwen was quite fond of her husband, she found herself taken a fancy to the young knight, Lancelot....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
888 words (2.5 pages)

Essay on The Creation of Lancelot and the Undoing of the Once and Future King

- The legendary figure of King Arthur, the Once and Future King, started his rise to literary prominence through Geoffrey of Monmouth and his work, The History of the Kings of Britain. Monmouth introduced readers to a heroic and noble king who defeated the Saxons and reclaimed Britain, creating a period which set the stage for the Arthurian era and the glories of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Over time additional authors added their voice to the telling of the Arthurian legend; adding events and characters, ultimately changing the story forever....   [tags: British History ]

Research Papers
2364 words (6.8 pages)

The Young Years of Queen Victoria Essay

- The Young Years of Queen Victoria Victoria was born on a spring day, May 24th, 1819, at Kensington Palace, in the then quiet suburb of London. "Plumb as a partridge" was her father's description of the baby, and she certainly bore a marked resemblance to her sturdy and robust Hanoverian ancestors who had ruled Great Britain for little more than a century at the time of her birth. By 1798 Victoria's grandfather, King George III, had reigned for nearly sixty years, but he was now old and feeble....   [tags: Queen Victoria Childhood Essays]

Research Papers
3512 words (10 pages)

Essay about Queen Elizabeth : The Queen Of England

- Queen Elizabeth was born on September 7, 1533 in Greenwich, United Kingdom. (Bio.com) The queen was recognized most by her nickname “The Virgin Queen.” Elizabeth I was the long filling queen of England, the Elizabethan era is actually named after her. Elizabeth governed with relative stability and prosperity for 44 years. (Bio.com) In Elizabeth 's early life she was a princess, but declared illegitimate through political machinations. She was perhaps England 's most famous monarch, but grew up in complex and sometimes difficult circumstances....   [tags: Elizabeth I of England, Mary I of England]

Research Papers
1086 words (3.1 pages)

Guenever's Love Triangle Essay

- Nowadays you hear about people cheating on each other and think of it as nothing. In the time period T.H. White’s, The Once and Future King was set, it was a crime as sinful as killing a person. Guenever is a heartless and conniving woman, who gets away with ‘murder’, just because she is the Queen of England. Throughout the book, Guenever is characterized as weak and evil, because her decisions and behavior affect Arthur, Lancelot, and herself negatively. To begin, Guenever manipulates Lancelot’s feelings....   [tags: Literary Analysis, The Once and Future King ]

Research Papers
1125 words (3.2 pages)

They see Guenever as an unimportant accomplice in their strategy of getting even, when Arthur tries to simply ignore it.
I believe that Guenever is definitely guilty of her actions, but under her circumstances, she was given the “short end of the stick.” Her marriage with Arthur was arranged, which was a standard given in her culture, and was not based on true love. Guenever knew her circumstance, and even said that Arthur would kill her if he caught her (541). In those days, you could not simply divorce your husband, especially in royalty, or you would be found and killed. Any sort of affair had to be kept “under wraps”, or the sin of the act could become fatal. She was a beautiful woman who fell for a hideous knight, Lancelot (315). His hideous appearance also favors the certainty of their love. Appearance and attraction are important factors in most affairs, but for Guenever, it was not the case. This makes me believe that she indeed was in love with Lancelot, and was not a typical “lady of the evening”, but was solely a victim of her era.
With marriage, normally comes a lot of attention and unconditional love. It seemed that Arthur gave too little of both. Arthur was focused on a new system, and a new way of thinking with “might for right”, or taking action without violence or conflict (246). With his high position came an ego, which caused him to focus on his grand idea, rather than on anything else. Too focused, in my belief, to spend time with Guenever, as well. If she spent so much time with Lancelot, that’s time that Arthur didn’t arrange to spend with her. Lancelot cared a lot for Guenever, or “Jenny” as he called her, as he called her “his special good lady”(570), and made her feel comfortable. His image was unimportant to Guenever, but his effort to care seemed to be. The affair was obvious, and Arthur had been warned and told about it, though he chose to not pay attention to it, as his focus left no awareness of her at all. This marriage proved to be weak and insufficient, just like it would be for many undeserved brides.
The relationship between Guenever and Arthur was very brief prior to their marriage, as it was arranged and made for them. King Leodegrance, Guen’s father, had organized her matrimony with the great King Arthur. No love can be forced, and you can’t create ”chemistry”, at random, with a person you are supposed to spend the rest of your life with. Guenever was not prepared for a life partner, and was not truly in love. No sign of passion, or willingness to sacrifice for Arthur was mentioned, as she wouldn’t burn for King Arthur, but she would for Lancelot, she would die. That seems more genuine than an arranged relationship with royalty could ever be. This situation, without the royalty, occurs daily in the world today, as forced marriages, for multiple reasons, eventually crumble. Arthur and Guenever had the same chance of that happening, as everyone else does.
Guenever deserves more credit that many give her. She was young, unprepared, and not given what she deserved. If she had lived in modern times, she would divorce and go on with her life, but she found another way out of her unhappiness, with one secret. A constant fear of death and an ignorant King for a husband left her to do no more than continue doing the wrong thing. Her conscious could do nothing but eat her alive, as she sought after what she needed. She just happened to find what it was that she needed in a kind, unsightly knight.

Works Cited
White, T.H. The Once and Future King. New York: Ace Books. 1987.
Return to 123HelpMe.com