• Kim C.

Idea's on Guinevere!

Hello, Arthurian Legend my old friend. Today's class discussion was a roasting of Queen Guinevere, and if anyone doesn't know about her actual character in literature, SPOILER ALERT! She's a stereotype. Guinevere is the woman who wants it all in life: the stability, the fun, the adoration, the attention, and heaven forbid anything or anyone gets in her way.

First, she's married to King Arthur. A king who is kicking ass and taking names while conquering the realms around him. Not enough? Okay, then she has the Love and devotion of Sir Lancelot. Lancelot is noted throughout literature as the best knight of knights, a vision of courtesy and chivalry. So, not only does she have a model of kingliness for a husband, but she has the epitome of knighthood as a lover.

Now, it's not as well known that Guinevere has a consistent enemy in Morgan Le Fay. Morgan is a traditional character from Celtic tales, and she is a well known enchantress and shape-shifters of legends. There are varying reasons why Morgan hates Guinevere, they range from Guinevere catching Morgan in an affair to Morgan's sinister desire to be Queen. Either way, these two have problems. Morgan is constantly trying to kill or sabotage Arthur; and, if she isn't doing that then she's doing everything possibly to expose Guinevere and Lancelot's affair.

Today's class was a roasting of Guin because of her behavior in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur​ in regards to Lancelot and Elayne. It had been prophesied that Lancelot would have a powerful son, and it was going to be with a young noble lady, Elayne. Since Lancelot is blinded by his Love of Guin, a sorceress puts a spell on him so he will think he's sleeping with Guinevere when he's actually with Elayne. After the truth comes to light, and Lancelot is ashamed of being tricked, Elayne bares a son as predicted. Since Lancelot was her first, she falls in love with him but she knows his thoughts are on another. While visiting King Arthur's castle, the sorceress tricks Lancelot again and slips him into Elayne's bed instead of Guinevere's. The queen catches them, and she is so furious that she orders Lancelot to never show himself to her again.

The biggest issue with this, and I agree, is that Guinevere is MARRIED to the King. She has zero reason to be upset with Lancelot for conceiving a child with another woman, let alone sleeping with another woman. Granted, they shouldn't have had to trick him twice to get him to sleep with Elayne, but Guinevere is still guilty of being a greedy adulteress. Elayne even confronts Guin about already having the best King for a HUSBAND, and shouldn't be keeping Lancelot from finding love with someone else, mainly with Elayne herself. Meanwhile, Lancelot has lost his mind because of being denied by Guin and has jumped half naked out of a window, into thorn bushes, and runs around the countryside for two years.

Moral of the story kids? Love can be a driving force to insanity in medieval literature.

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