Medieval Narratives

Arthurian Legend
 Romantic stories, those of adventure, gallant love,
chivalry, and heroism dominate the Middle Ages
 They were based around a character named Arthur,
actually based on a Celtic chieftain who lived a
millennium prior (5th or 6th century??)
 Arthur and his knights lived in a world very much
unlike England at the time, a world of justice and
 Idealized or larger-than-life characters
 A hero who faces a challenge or a test
 Exotic settings or supernatural elements
 Hidden or mistaken identity
 Identify the 4 traits of Medieval Romance in the
following passage:
“Sir Gareth, pure of heart, laughed heartily as the giant
approached. “So you want to fight?” He asked. “Who
are you? What do you seek?” The giant said, “Guess.”
 The plot of Medieval Romance is typically driven by
conflict, a struggle between opposing forces
 Conflicts could be internal, external or both
 Ex-in battle, a knight may externally struggle against an
enemy warrior and internally struggle to be courageous
and live up to the ideals of chivalry
 Identify the internal and external conflict in the
following passage:
“Inch by inch. I climbed the rock. One false move and
I would fall. Was reaching the summit worth this
effort, or had I made a terrible mistake? “Just climb!”
I growled to myself. “This is no time for doubt!”
 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
 Written anonymously
 Tells the story of a knight in King Arthur’s court who
embodies chivalric ideals
 Sir Gawain – a nephew of the legendary King Arthur
 The most important virtue was trawthe –Middle English
for “truth,” “devotion” and “fidelity”
 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is considered one of
the finest Arthurian Romances
 Le Morte d’Arthur
 Written by Thomas Mallory – fought in hundred years
war and was knighted in 1442
 He was imprisoned repeatedly on a variety of charges:
rape, robbery, bribery and attempted murder (pleaded
innocent and was never found guilty)
 He wrote Le Morte d’Arthur while serving a series of
prison terms between 1451 and 1469
 It heralds the death of Arthur as well as some other
tumultuous events toward the end of his life