Comparing Piety In The Wakefield Mystery Plays, The Book Of Margery Kempe, And Le Morte D'arthur

1244 words - 5 pages

Comparing Notions of Piety in The Wakefield Mystery Plays, The Book of Margery Kempe, and Le Morte D'Arthur

The monastic lifestyle that Launcelot and his knights adopt after their conversion is one that Margery Kempe might approve of -- doing penance, singing mass, fasting, and remaining abstinent. (MdA, 525) But Launcelot's change of heart is not motivated by the emotions that move Kempe, nor is his attitude towards God the same as can be found in The Book of Margery Kempe and The Wakefield Mystery Plays.

In the Wakefield plays, God wins piety through outright threats. He appears to his followers in visions, as he does in Kempe, but never as a benevolent or comforting presence. Kempe receives her only comfort in life through God's constant reassurances of her holiness in the face of the condemnation of her peers; in the Creation play, it is God who casts out Adam and Eve, just as Kempe is cast out of traveling party after traveling party. The fear of being similarly punished keeps other Wakefield characters in line. Noah begins his play with a speech detailing the mistakes of the those who have angered the Lord: "First on Earth and then in hell . . . but to those no harm befell/who trusted in his truth." And God responds: "Vengeance I will take,/ On earth for sin's sake,/My grimness thus will wake/Both great and small." (WP, 91) God promises that "All shall perish less and more that so spurned my plan." Faced with the choice of loyalty to God or death, Noah's faith looks suspect, as does Abraham's. Abraham's initial speech is similar to Noah's, recounting man's previous sins and later promising God, "To hear thy will, ready I am,/And to fulfil whatever it be." (WP, 109) When toying with the idea of offending against God's will, Abraham quickly decides, "Nay, I would rather my child were dead." (ibid.) Kempe's God, Malory's God, would never resort to intimidation to win fealty and obedience.

Malory never mentions Hell or the threat of damnation in his Guenever's explanation of her conversion. Guenever instead elucidates to Launcelot her desire to "have sight of the blessed face of Christ, and at doomsday to sit on His right side." (MdA, 523) Her desire to be close to the Lord arises not from fear, as does Abraham's, nor from a childish desire to be reassured of her central goodness in the face of contempt, as does Kempe's. She believes in a heavenly reward for her penitence, but does not mention terror or parental comfort. Malory might find offensive the idea that God would have to sink to bullying to enforce adherence to His orders.

But then, the courtly characters in Malory don't seem very interested in Biblical imperatives to begin with. Illegitimacy (Launcelot's sons), incest (Mordred's conception), killing, and lying (Launcelot's stalwart denial of his 40-year affair with Guenever) are rampant in the court and very little condemnation of this continual flouting of the rules is seen. What does upset one of the more...

Find Another Essay On Comparing Piety in The Wakefield Mystery Plays, The Book of Margery Kempe, and Le Morte D'Arthur

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court vs. Le Morte D'Arthur

579 words - 2 pages Connecticut Yankee and Malory’s Morte D’Arthur may be compared through the unique portrayal of living conditions, chivalry, knightly adventures and the role of magic and mystery. Living conditions in the Arthurian Legend are presented in distinctly different manners between A Connecticut Yankee and Le Morte D’Arthur. While the quality of life for the poor is consistently harsh for both novels, some differences do exist. The poor in A Connecticut

The Controversial Margery Kempe Essay

4112 words - 16 pages envy of her neighbors that they should be as well arrayed as she.? In her Book, she even goes so far as to say that her marriage to businessman John Kempe did no justice to her ?worthy kindred? and was a socially-imbalanced relationship, although they both belonged to the same social class. This haughtiness and sense of pride are distinguishing features of Margery throughout her life. In 1393, at the age of twenty, Margery married John, who was

A Feminist in the Medieval Era: Margery Kempe

1401 words - 6 pages the 14th century versus now, but about our societal normalitys in general. When we read The Book of Margery Kempe, it is not difficult to see the connection and similarity of how Kempe was perceived in her era, and how we perceive and judge her as well. The comparison of the14th century to present day just goes to show how astonishing it is to see such little change in beliefs, judgments, and acceptance over hundreds of year. Provided, there

Margery Kempe and Mental Illness

2421 words - 10 pages ). Works Cited Gray, Peter, ed. Psychology. 5th ed. New York: Worth Publishers, 2007. Print. “Mental Illness Exacts Heavy Toll, Beginning in Youth.” National Institute of Mental Health. NIMH, 6 June 2005. Web. 23 Novemeber 2010. Repper, J., and R. Perkins. Social Inclusion and Recovery: A Model for Mental Health Practice. China: Elsevier Health, 2004. Google books. Web. 24 November 2010. Staley, Lynn, ed. & trans. The Book of Margery Kempe. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2001. Print.

Poetry Analysis of Morte D'Arthur

2627 words - 11 pages misery on behalf of the prisoner then for the dying king. When fabricating their settings the authors often employ techniques akin to one another. Tennyson refers to the scenery as 'place of tombs' and 'ruin'd shrine," as he writes 'Morte D'Arthur'. This shows that death is in the very countryside around him. The poem is about death and Tennyson puts that into every aspect of his world; everything mirrors the story

Love and Morality in Le Morte Darthur

762 words - 3 pages The passion of love, treachery of betrayal and triumph of justice. It is not often today that we find three such vastly different characteristics woven into a tale so vividly. The epic Le Morte Darthur not only possesses these three characteristics, but delves deeply into the meaning and soul of them, most decidedly in the story of Sir Pelleas and Lady Ettard. The saga of these two tragic individuals clearly demonstrates the classic

Conceit and Misfortune in Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield

2487 words - 10 pages Conceit and Misfortune in Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield From three hundred years of Ireland’s history, The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction1[1] collects a combination of complete works and samples of the works of many great Irish authors. Among the authors included in this volume is Oliver Goldsmith, an Irishman of great diversity in his writings and remembered perhaps as well for his individuality, character and generosity as

Culture and values of the texts, "Le Morte Darthur" by Malory and "Saint" by Sir Bernard Shaw

1446 words - 6 pages Texts are usually appropriations of another text, it is a rendering to a similar idea or theme. The author of a book may have been inspired by another to write their novel. Hence the ideas of the time in which texts were written or the times in which the story is based in can also be transmitted. Le Morte Darthur by Malory, Saint Joan by Bernard Shaw are just a few examples of texts responding to cultures and values tainted during their time as

Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur and Monty Python and the Holy Grail

2271 words - 9 pages Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur and Monty Python and the Holy Grail Professor’s comment: This student uses a feminist approach to shift our value judgment of two works in a surprisingly thought-provoking way. After showing how female seduction in Malory’s story of King Arthur is crucial to the story as a whole, the student follows with an equally serious analysis of Monty Python’s parody of the female seduction motif in what may be the

The Piety of Aeneas in Virgil's Aeneid

1214 words - 5 pages . With each trial, Aeneas becomes stronger and a better leader, eventually fulfilling his destiny as the founder of Rome. With his transformation comes a lesser dependence on the actions of the gods, exemplified best by Jupiter's decree in Book X that the gods must henceforth stay neutral in the battle. Aeneas never loses sight of his goal, all the while maintaining his pious duty to the Trojan people. Even in battle, the reader is reminded of his

Comparing the Plays, A Raisin in the Sun and Death of a Salesman

987 words - 4 pages In history there have been an uncountable amount of plays made, but there have only been two that fully captured the American dream like A Raisin in the sun and Death of a Salesman. In both plays the protagonist is trying to achieve the American dream, but it is near impossible when neither of them has the respect of their superiors or the people around them. It is amazing that two different plays can so closely parallel each other when they

Similar Essays

"The Book Of Margery Kempe" By Margery Kempe

1351 words - 5 pages While much attention has been brought upon Margery Kempe's behavior in her book The Book of Margery Kempe, an exploration of her movements is also essential in thoroughly understanding her book. One cannot fully understand the importance of her story and the meaning of her other behaviors without understanding her travels. She uses her travels as one medium to impose the importance of self on the social. Margery Kempe uses her travel as a medium

Sex, Sensuality And Religion In The Book Of Margery Kempe

1423 words - 6 pages Sex, Sensuality and Religion in The Book of Margery Kempe         Baron Richard Von Krafft-Ebing, a 19th century German psychiatrist, was quoted as having said, "We find that the sexual instinct, when disappointed and unappeased, frequently seeks and finds a substitute in religion." This may have been the condition of Margery Kempe when she desired to cease all sexual activity with her spouse because of her devotion to God. Instead of

What Characteristics Of Medieval Romance Are Shown In Le Morte D'arthur? Book: Le Morte D'arthur Author: Sir Thomas Malory

613 words - 2 pages The quest of the Sangreal in Le Morte D'Arthur depicts several of the characteristics of Medieval Romance. For instance, Sir Launcelot's struggle to find the grail and come to terms with his sins reflects the quality. Sir Launcelot's attempt at the grail begins on page 387, and the ensuing events show the knight as the tale's protagonist. Another key element of this literature was the notion of a quest and the physical and mental struggles

Le Morte D'arthur Essay

808 words - 3 pages pulled out the iron bars and cut his hand. This was another act of Lancelot?s love for the Queen. As his reward, Guinevere slept with Lancelot; they carried out their passions for one another. Courtly love is simply another form of adultery, however it was not taken lightly when the secret was revealed. As previously stated, knights contain certain qualities that differentiate them from other people. In Le Morte d?Arthur, Malory expresses his