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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 characteristics of a knight as well as the concept of morality in Arthurian times.

From childhood, we learn about gallant knights in shining armour who heroically save the damsel in distress on their brilliantly white horse. We believe these men to be good-hearted, moral, and emotionally sound. It is nearly sacrilegious to merely conceptualize a knight who is corrupt or evil in any way. Many of these ideals stem from the Knights of the Round Table, who withheld many of these beliefs and embodied all of these characteristics. Perhaps the sole creator of this "ideal" knight is King Arthur, for it is he who first laid down a set of marked commandments that he expected his knights to embody. In the tale of Sir Pelleas and Lady Ettard, it is evident that Pelleas successfully epitomizes these characteristics.

King Arthur first and foremost expected his knights to show mercy. Upon discovery of Ettard and Sir Gawain in bed together, and Gawain's betrayal, Pelleas is angry, hurt and confused. Such a combination of emotions could easily lead to his lashing out in murder, but he maintains composure and sacrifices the life of Gawain, because he wishes to "never destroy the high order of knighthood." (Malory 78). He instead chooses to lay his sword across their throats as a warning that they have been discovered. Pelleas also demonstrates much respect towards women, another winning element of a knight. Although Ettard continues to shun his love, he never attempts to physically force himself upon her, leaving all decisions to her. Using great restraint, Pelleas is able to avoid fighting over love and other worldly goods, as he respects Gawain and the principles of the Knights of the Round Table enough to sacrifice the battle. Arthur asks of his knights to avoid murder, and so...

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