Student Reflections on Malory’s and Geoffrey’s Roman War Accounts

Students in my WR 222 class, Introduction to Literature and Writing, have read Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “history” of Arthur, which includes his account of the Roman War campaign.  Since then, we have read the 12th century French Arthurian romance Knight of the Cart by Chretien de Troyes and a lay by Marie de France.  Now we are turning to Malory’s version of the Roman War campaign.

I’m dragging unwitting others along into my obsession!

A detail from Le Morte Darthur, BL Add. MS 59678, 357v. © The British Library Board.

Here is what I’ve asked my students to do:

Consider one passage in Malory’s Roman War account.  How does it differ from Geoffrey’s account?  Provide a quote from Malory and a quote from Geoffrey to explore the difference.  Or, note how the episode doesn’t occur in Geoffrey and consider what it adds to Malory’s narrative.  What seems to be the meaning of this passage when you think of it in the larger context of Malory’s telling of the Roman War campaign? What does Malory want to emphasize?

A few passage you might want to consider:

  1.  The beginning of the episode
  2. The departure from England
  3. The role of Tristan, Lancelot, Guinevere
  4. Arthur’s battle with the giant
  5. Arthur’s battle with Frollo
  6. The geographic descriptions
  7. The conquest of Rome
  8. The different endings

They will be contributing their insights by way of the comment function.  Once all the responses are in, I will gather them into a new post.

Looking forward to your insights, Marylhurst students!

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16 Responses to Student Reflections on Malory’s and Geoffrey’s Roman War Accounts

  1. Jake Carlsen says:

    The endings of the accounts of Arthur’s conquering of Rome according to Geoffrey on Monmouth and Sir Thomas Malory are extremely different, but it would be safe to say that the two writers had very different motivations.
    In the case of Malory, he goes on to write more of the life of Arthur and the people surrounding him in popular myth, so leaving him falling short of conquering Rome and ultimately being defeated by Modred as in the final paragraph of Geoffrey’s account (Page 93 of The Romance of Arthur) would not have been acceptable. Instead, Malory has Arthur “crowned Emperor by the Pope’s hands, with all the royalty in the world to wield for ever.” (Near marker [12] of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur)
    In the case of Geoffrey, he was motivated by writing a “history” of Arthur, and thus did not need to keep the story going on further. Having Arthur get close to winning Rome served his needs, and having him defeated by the treachery at the hands of Modred and going off to Avalon to potentially rise again also served his needs. With Malory, he wished to carry the story on, and so he had Arthur win his battle against Rome and become the rightful ruler of Europe, presenting a better back drop for continuing on to tell more stories of Arthur and those associated with him.
    -Jake Carlsen-

  2. Amy Webber says:

    Malory’s Roman War account was written more than 300 years after Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote his History of the Kings of Britain. As I was analyzing both accounts of Arthur’s Roman War, I noticed something that caused me to want to do some research. In both Geoffrey’s and Mallory’s accounts of the wars against the Roman Empire, they mention a man named Lucius Hiberius. In Geoffrey’s story, King Arthur is given a letter “on behalf of Lucius Hiberius” (76). Geoffrey does not call Lucius an emperor. In fact, I believe he is the head of the Senate. Within the letter that King Arthur receives, it says, “Nor are you in haste to recognize what it is to have offended criminally the Senate, which you know the entire world should obey” (77). Also, when King Arthur is fighting Frollo, they state the name of the emperor of that time: “Gaul was then a province of Rome, charged to the Tribune Frollo, who governed it on behalf of Emperor Leo” (73). In my research I found that, historically, Leo II was the Roman Emperor at this time.

    Three hundred years later, Sir Thomas Malory gives Lucius Hiberius the title of Roman Emperor: “And then so it befell that the Emperor of Rome, Lucius, sent unto Arthur messengers commanding him for to pay his truage that his ancestors have paid before him” (82). Throughout Malory’s story of the Roman War, King Arthur and his knights are fighting against Emperor Lucius for King Arthur’s position as the rightful heir at the head of the Roman Empire. My research did not come up with any accounts of a Roman Emperor called Lucius Hiberius.

  3. Lorie Bailey says:

    In comparing Mallory and Geoffrey’s Roman war account, I will use the story of Arthur’s dream before his battle with the Giant. One difference I find in reading Mallory after Geoffrey is that Mallory takes Geoffrey’s stories and adds dramatic flair, contributing to the imagery as well as to the symbolic meaning. In Geoffrey’s account, Arthur dreams of a “bear flying through the sky, at whose roar all the coasts trembled” and a “terrible dragon . . . which lit up the land with the splendor of its eyes.” (Wilhelm 80). In Mallory’s version, much more detail is given to both awesome creatures, particularly the dragon: “And his head, him seemed, was enameled with azure, and his shoulders shone as the gold, and his womb was like mail of marvelous hue; and his tail was full of tatters…and his claws were like clean gold” (Cooper 86). The bear also takes on more detail in Mallory’s rendering: “…his paws were as big as a post. He was all wrinkled with lowering looks, and he was the foulest beast that any man saw” (86). The imagery evoked by Mallory’s elaborate descriptions further animates the story. It also adds symbolic meaning, as the dragon is meant to signify Arthur: “…and the color of his wings is thy kingdoms that thou has with thy knights won; and his tail that was all tattered signified your noble knights of the Round Table” (87).

    The Mallory text:
    The Geoffrey text was taken from The Romance of Arthur: An Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation, edited by James J. Wilhelm.

  4. I can see an immediate difference just looking at the beginning of the Arthur/Lucius sections in both works. In Geoffrey, when Lucius’ men threaten Arthur he responds by immediately gathering his men and planning his attack: “Once those words were spoken before the kings and lords, Arthur accompanied them to a gigantic tower…to debate what should be done to counter these commands.”
    In Malory’s retelling of the tale, Arthur says he “will not be too over-hasty” and invites the messengers to remain as his guests for seven full days while he considers what he should do next. He then goes on to take exceedingly good care of them, commanding that “these men be settled and served with the best, that there be no danties spared upon them, that neither child nor horse faulted nothing.”
    It seems like Malory is trying to make Arthur almost Christlike here, that he is so generous and thoughtful as to provide lavishly for the men he rightfully considers his enemies. He says of these men “they are full royal people; and though they have grieved me and my court, yet we must remember on our worship.”
    He’s clearly rising above the conflict, being the bigger man. This is exactly the opposite of Arthur’s character as presented in Geoffrey: the calculating, unsentimental warrior who wants nothing but to win at all costs.

  5. Fergus Firth says:

    I decided to focus on the variations in Arthur’s account with the giant. Geoffrey’s account portrays Arthur as someone interested in vanquishing the giant purely for sport. We don’t hear much about the giant other than him taking the niece of the duke of Hoel. After Arthur kills the giant he says how he has never had an equal fight with a stronger man for a long time. In Sir Thomas Malory’s version he pretty closely follows Geoffrey’s Arthur vs. giant story but Malory adds some influential information for Arthur’s character. In Malory’s version Arthur accepts this challenge because the giant has been stealing children for seven winters, 500 villagers and kids in total. When Arthur is talked to by these people he is referred to as “Sir Conqueror.” They also say that 500 knights were lost trying to recover the Duchess of Brittany. When Arthur hears all of this he very kindly says he will treat with him before he goes further. In full armor Arthur goes up the mountain and asks the giant “…hast thou killed these Christian children?” With much work and many close calls as on looking “… baleful maidens wrung their hands, and kneeled on the ground and called to Christ” Arthur defeats the giant. Afterwards he says he wonders if God would suffer him to abide in heaven. Malory’s portrayal is significantly more religious then Geoffrey’s. Malory’s account not only talks about God more but Arthur’s character follows the standard noble conscience of a good Christian, turning him into a supernatural role model/profit (perhaps a bit like Jesus) just as much as a historical figure. The addition of the giant’s past slaughterings makes Arthur look more selfless, willing to sacrifice his own well being to save a small community of people. Malory does all of this while showing the importance of Arthur’s position dominating the world; never letting you forget the conqueror he is, as everyone calls him “Sir Conqueror.” Another thing I found interesting was then earlier in the reading Lucius, Arthur’s advisory from Rome, calls for “many giants of Genoa.” Interestingly enough the giant Arthur fights is also from Genoa, though Malory assures his readers that there is no connection. Perhaps it just makes Rome seem a little more savage and evil, less Christian.

  6. Holly Dickinson says:

    One of the differences between Geoffrey of Monmouth and Sir Thomas Malory is their individual treatment of the messengers sent by Lucius to Arthur. In Geoffrey, the envoy arrives, delivers the demands, and then the narration jumps to Arthur and his men going off “to debate what should be done to counter these commands” (Wilhelm 77). No further mention is made of the messengers by Geoffrey, they simply disappear from the narration having served their purpose. Malory, however, decides to further develop the role of the Roman messengers, allowing them and Arthur to interact. We hear a messenger say to Arthur that he “was so afraid when [he] looked in [Arthur’s] face that [his] heart would not serve for to say [his] message” (Cooper 82) which gives Malory’s audience a better idea of Arthur’s formidable presence. Then Malory continues by telling us that Arthur “commanded…that these men be settled and served with the best” (Cooper 82) despite the offensive news that they have delivered to his court. This moment paints a clear picture of Arthur as an extraordinarily generous man and reinforces the image of his legendary compassion toward friend or even foe.
    Perhaps the difference between the two texts arises from the motives of the authors. Geoffrey’s goal was to merely create a historical manuscript and so is more interested in getting directly to the war between Arthur and Lucius. Malory, however, seems to be more of a story teller and so character development is an important aspect to his accounts. The interaction between Arthur and Lucius’ messengers presents a stronger sense of Arthur as a character.

    Cooper, Helen, ed. Le Morte Darthur the Winchester Manuscript. By Sir Thomas Malory. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. Print.
    Wilhelm, James, ed. The Romance of Arthur: an Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation. New York: Garland, 1994. Print.

  7. AnnaLee Collinson says:

    The introductions of both Malory and Geoffrey created different images of Arthur in one’s mind. In the beginning of Malory’s writing Arthur seems to be feared by the messengers. Arthur’s anger makes the messengers fear him. The fear portrayed is similar to Geoffrey’s interpretation of Arthur. Malory’s version creates a sense of authority in Arthur. A difference in the stories being that Arthur is normally feared by enemies and not so much neutral parties (though it was difficult for me specifically to distinguish which side the messengers might be on.)
    In Geoffrey’s story Arthur is an extremely generous and loving leader, or at least to his people. It says that Arthur has “remarkable valor and generosity, whose natural goodness displayed such grace that he was loved by virtually all the people.” (Romance 67).
    There are many different interpretations of Arthur and these are only two. Even with only two, one can see the vast differences between Arthur’s characteristics. The reader can also determine pretty quickly what type of person Arthur will be described as in any given story about him.

  8. Jeffrey (of Lents) T Gardner says:

    Mallory and Geoffrey deliver two very different accounts of the deeds of Arthur. In both stories there is a request from Rome that ignites Arthur’s fervor for war. The differences are the port they depart from and who gets left in charge. In Geoffrey’s account, Arthur “entrusted the security of Britain to his nephew Mordred and Queen Guinevere. (Wilhelm 80)” Malory tells us that Arthur “left the Queen in Sir Constantine’s and Sir Baudwin’s hands, and all England to rule as themselves deemed best. (Cooper 86)” Constantine is granted the crown at the end of each tale, one could assume that for consistency, Malory may have retold this to legitimize the current claim of the rightful heir. In Geoffrey’s version, the coronation of Sir Constantine at the end of the myth comes off as trivial and almost random.
    Another interesting variation in these two texts is the location of the port for departure. In Geoffrey’s version, King Arthur “led his army to the port of Southampton, where he put to sea with a strong wind blowing. (Wilhelm 80)” Malory places this event almost 150 miles to the east when he writes that King Arthur “and his knights sought towards Sandwich. (Cooper 86)” The port of Southampton is much older, inhabited in some way or another since the Stone Age. This would have been the more credible choice for Geoffrey. Malory uses Sandwich, which by the fifteenth century was a vibrant port and was represented in the Parliament. Malory’s choice in locations seems to come from what would have been believable at the time.

  9. Mark Webber says:

    When comparing the stories of Geoffrey and Malory, two main points seem to stand out. While Geoffrey’s Arthur in Geoffrey of Monmouth is significantly longer than Malory’s Arthur and Lucius the Emperor of Rome, Malory’s version has more substance in the detail. With that thought in mind the second point is perplexing; Malory completely leaves out the battle between Arthur and Mordred. In fact Mordred is not even mentioned in Malory’s text. The omission completely changes the mood at the end of his story.
    The end of Malory’s version has Guinevere traveling to London to meet the triumphant Arthur. Omitting Mordred also eliminates any infidelity from Guinevere. When they met “there was never a solemner meeting in one city together, for all manner of riches they brought with them at the full” (Mallory 94). On the other hand Geoffrey writes of a huge battle between Mordred and Arthur. His story ends with Mordred killed and “King Arthur was mortally wounded, and was carried from there to the Isle of Avalon” (Geoffrey 93). When comparing the two stories it should be remembered that Geoffrey wrote his story to record a historic event. Geoffrey gets caught up in many battles, with the minute detail of ax swings and horrible deaths. Malory’s version is written more for entertainment value with more substance in dialogue, less in historic detail.

  10. Britt R. says:

    When comparing Geoffrey and Malory it is interesting to note the difference between the two conclusions of the siege of Rome. Geoffrey and Malory end their respective stories quite differently. While the Arthur of Geoffrey never makes it back to Rome, Malory’s Arthur is proclaimed Emperor there. In Geoffrey, Arthur is told of his nephew and wife being caught in flagrante delicto, and he travels back to Britain to reclaim his throne. Malory paints a very different ending as the Pope gives Arthur “all the royalty in the world to wield for ever” (92). By ending in this way Malory creates a higher drama for the death of Arthur that is to come. He clearly separates the battle with Rome and the looming battle with Mordred. In Malory’s ending Arthur is given time to enjoy with his knights the celebration and spoils of war. The knights of Malory leave Rome victorious, well-fed, rewarded with lands and off to “sport with [their] wives” (94). This divergence of endings symbolizes the very nature of the two writers. Malory writes lyrically and creatively. He expands and extends the story of Arthur, and creates a fully actualized work. He presents Arthur in a literary way, painting the portrait of Arthur that builds towards his dramatic demise.

  11. Jessica Zisa says:

    After reading Malory and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s accounts of Arthur, I found myself drawn to the portrayal of Arthur upon slaying the evil giant. There are many differences in the two texts; however, these differences reflect an interesting variance in the portrayal of Arthur’s personality both as a ruler and a warrior. In Malory’s account, Kay and Bedivere think Arthur to be dead after the giant falls, but Arthur calls to them: “‘but help me, Sir Kay, for this corsaint have I clegged out of the yonder cloughs’” (Malory 90). This statement refers to the giant as being a saint due to his affiliation with Rome, to which Bedivere responds to this sarcastic statement saying, “‘And if saints be such that serve Jesu, I will never seek for none, by the faith of my body’” (Malory 91). To this the King laughs and tells Bedivere to “‘strike off his head’” (Malory 91). In Geoffrey’s account, Arthur simply laughs when the giant collapses and falls dead. “Then the detestable one cried out and, like an oak uprooted by the force of winds, collapsed with a great crash. The king burst into a laugh. He ordered Bedivere to cut off the giants head…” (Romance 81). Geoffrey’s account of Arthur’s personality is more abstract, as Geoffrey transitions straight into the next account with more of a sense of telling through narration than showing through dialog. The brief dialogue in Malory’s account reflects Arthur’s feelings to the hypocrisy of Rome and its use of religion. It gives him a human tone and builds his likeability as a character.

  12. Larry John says:

    What seems to be the meaning of the passage (Arthur’s battle with the giant) when you think of it in the larger context of Malory’s telling of the Roman War campaign? What does Malory want to emphasize?
    Like most of us I chose Arthur’s battle with the giant.
    Little else caught my interest like the account of description of the giant. I enjoyed attempting to decipher what some of the archaic terms meant (especially in the handout for Malory’s account). Interestingly enough the context made it almost possible to understand even without reading the footnotes.

    How does Malory’s Roman War account differ from Geoffrey’s account?

    Whether it be the retelling of the fictional or factual fantastic deeds from long ago, the story seems to grow more and more glorious; including more and more details. Malory’s account is two or three times as long and his giant is more horrible than Geoffrey’s. In Malory’s account Arthur is told that the giant currently has six children turning on a spit by three maidens who will be dead in four hours. The rape references are more graphic and Arthur’s vengeance is more violent as he performs a crotch-ectomy of this “carl” glutton. For instance, this giant has lived on the flesh of five-hundred people over the past seven years. This detail is not included in Geoffrey’s account. This monster is from the region of Genoa (a Roman city to the Northwest of Rome) whereas the giant in Geoffrey’s account is from Spain. Perhaps Malory felt a political motivation to place the monster’s origins in a region closer to Rome?

    The maiden’s identity has changed:
    Geoffrey- Helena the niece of Duke Hoel who took her own life to avoid the shame of rape by the giant. The widow- nurse to Helena is apparently raped by the giant.
    Malory- Duchess of Brittany who is the wife of King Arthur’s cousin makes for a more personal vendetta to take out the giant who appears to be raping or eating everyone, man, woman or child, that he can find
    The battle
    Geoffrey- No depiction of the emotional reaction that Arthur has nor any verbal interaction between the two. Difficult to tell just why this is except it may be differences in their writing styles or that the telling of stories has morphed and grown more descriptive and novel-like during the time that has passed between the two writings.
    Geoffrey – more matter of fact
    “As soon as he (the giant) saw them, having expected nothing of the sort, he hurried to grab his club, which two young men could hardly lift of the ground. In response drew his sword…drove the whole blade against the skull-cover that covered the brain. Then the detestable one cried out and, like an oak uprooted by the force of winds, collapsed with a great crash”

    Malory- more color more depth to the monster and Arthur’s response.
    “Then he passed forth to the crest of the hill, and saw where he sat his supper alone, gnawing on a limb of a large man; and there he baked his broad loins by the bright of the fire, and breeches less he seemed. And three damsels turned three broaches and thereon were twelve children but lately born, and they were broached in manner like birds. When the King beheld that sight his heart was nigh bleeding for sorrow. Then he hailed with angerful words; ‘Now He that all wields, give thee sorrow, thief, where thou sittest! For that art the foulest freke that ever was formed…”

  13. Sir Thomas Malory and Geoffrey of Monmouth have two varying accounts of the Roman War that each use to show a different characteristic in King Arthur. Mallory writes in his text, “The Noble Tale Betwixt King Arthur and Lucius the Emperor of Rome,” that after hearing of Lucius’ demands that King Arthur must pay truage to Rome, the Kind brought his men to him for counsel and said thus: “…of my blood elders that were born in Britain, they have occupied the empireship eight score winters…the empire [was] kept by my kind elders, and thus we have evidence enough to the empire of whole Rome.” Malory’s emphasis in this moment is that Arthur has a rightful claim to Rome and therefore would be justified in ceasing the empire. Here, Malory’s Arthur is a king of justice, trying to restore what was taken from him, and reasonably offended that he was asked to pay truage to an empire that was rightfully his.

    Geoffrey uses the same moment in his account of the Roman War, where Arthur is demanded of to pay tribute to Rome, in order to emphasize Arthur’s right to violence: “…because Romans used violence, he makes an unreasonable claim…since he presumes to exact from us what is not due him, let us by parallel reasoning seek from him the tribute of Rome.” Here, Geoffrey is having Arthur take an eye-for-an-eye approach, validating Arthur’s soon to be slaughter of the Romans by claiming the Roman empire has done the Arthur’s people what the Britons are about to do to it. Where Malory is trying to present a kinder Arthur, that is less concerned with exacting revenge than justice, Geoffrey is all about the retribution of violence with violence.

  14. dragon345 says:

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account of Arthur differs from Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte Darthur in breadth and manner of speech. First, Geoffrey says that the kingdom was entrusted to his nephew Mordred and Queen Guinevere (Romance 80). Geoffrey also mentions a dream, but it is Arthur who decides it is premonitory – “But Arthur interpreted it otherwise, believing that the vision was rather about himself and the emperor” (Romance 80). Another chief difference is Sir Bedivere’s presence; as it is he who calms the distressed woman as Arthur goes on to fight the giant (Romance 81). Lastly, it is the duke’s niece who was carried off by the giant (Romance 81). In Mallory’s account, the king seeks advice for his premonitory dream, the giant kidnaps the duchess, and he goes by himself to kill the creature (86, 88). Geoffrey’s account was meant to be historical, which meant that his style was dry and details were not always lyrical in texture: “While they waited, Arthur was told that a giant of extraordinary size had come from Spain and had seized Helena, the niece of Duke Hoel, from her guardians and fled with her to the summit of the mountain now called Mont St. Michel” (Romance 80). Mallory’s purpose in Le Morte Darthur was to give Arthur’s legend lyricism and exquisite details, so that the reader might better engage with the legend and Arthur.

    It is quite interesting how Lucius is negatively painted in Le Morte Darthur. When Lucius first finds out that Arthur is determined to not pay truage, he decides to bring with him “many giants of Genoa, that one of them shall be worth a hundred of knights” (85). This is itself ironic, as Arthur easily bests one giant of Genoa. Yet it is even more interesting to see how the word “foul” is used in Arthur’s dream and in the giant of Genoa fighting scene. In Arthur’s dream, the bear is quite the hideous creature: “He was all wrinkled with lowering looks, and he was the foulest beast that ever any man saw. He roamed and roared so rudely that marvel it were to tell” (86). This is true of the giant of Genoa, as King Arthur finds him to be “the foulest freke that ever was formed” (89). Within the fight scene itself, the word foul is mentioned three times, each marveling how disgusting this giant is. The description of the movements of the giant reminds one of the prophetic dream of King Arthur: “And therewith sturdily he started up on his legs…Then he swapped at the King….Then he roared and brayed, an yet angerly he struck…” (90). Even after the battle is completed, the giant cannot escape notice, as Sir Bedivere proclaims the giant to be “a foul carl” (91). This giant of Genoa reflects badly on Lucius and the tax he seeks. Not only does he choose a creature that kills wantonly and, in the eyes of Arthur, unchristianly; he chose a creature that was meant to be the equivalent of one hundred knights (85). In the end, the wise words of Lucius’s senators haunt his marked existence, as they warned him that “of all the sovereigns that we ever saw, he is the royallest king that liveth on earth” (84). A piece of wisdom that accompanied him to the grave that Arthur carved for him, no doubt.

    ~By the way, this is Sarah Zisa. I had posted this in the July section, and reposted it here.

  15. Kandice C. says:

    In his History of the Kings of Briton Geoffrey of Monmouth does not give much attention to women. They usually show up a side note, or to stir a man to battle in some way. Geoffrey introduces readers to Guinevere as follows: “When he had finally brought the state of the whole country to its original dignity, Arthur married a woman named Guinevere. She was descended from a noble family of Romans and reared in the household of Duke Cador. She was the loveliest woman in all the land. At the start of the following summer he readied his fleet and went to the island of Ireland, which he wished to subject to himself” (71-72). We can see here that the momentous occasion of the joining of Arthur and Guinevere was a really meaningful occasion to Geoffrey, squeezed as it is between two statements of actual or intended war conquests. This rendition of a feminine role is typical of Geoffrey. He sandwiches Guinevere’s presence between battles again in the text when Arthur is on a war quest to Rome:

    “It was announced to [Arthur] that his nephew Modred, to whose guardianship he had entrusted Britain, was wearing its crown in tyranny and treachery, and that Queen Guinevere, having broken the oath of her prior nuptials, had been joined to him in unconscionable lust. (…) When the infamy of this notorious crime reached his ears, Arthur postponed the invasion he had wanted to make (…) he immediately returned to Britain.” (91)

    Malory’s portrayal of Guinevere in The Death of Arthur is a lot different. She is still largely peppered into the text between battle scenes, but Malory’s Guinevere has a more definite presence and effect on others around her. The following passage richly illustrates Guinevere’s feelings regarding the political events she has witnessed in her life, and her feelings regarding Lancelot:

    “Therefore, Sir Lancelot, I require thee and beseech thee heartily, for all the love that ever was betwixt us, that thou never see me more in the visage; and I command thee, on God’s behalf, that thou forsake my company and to thy kingdom thou turn again, and keep well thy realm from war and wrake; for as well as I have loved thee, mine heart will not serve me to see thee, for through thee and me is the flower of kings and knights destroyed. Therefore, Sir Lancelot, go to thy realm, and there take thee a wife, and live with her with joy and bliss; and I pray thee heartily: pray for me to our Lord that I may amend my misliving.” (571)

    Malory’s Guinevere is allowed a voice and an emotional impact. She is woven through the story with her own thread, and that she could even speak frankly toward Lancelot as she did above illustrates that she was able to exist in her society with some freedom.

    Source: The Romance of Arthur: An Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation. Ed. James Wilhelm. New York: Garland Publishing, 1994. Print.

  16. Alyx Brennan says:

    There are many differences between Geoffrey’s text and Malory’s. The one that stood out to me the most was how the Duke of Tintagel and his wife Igraine left the king’s court. In Geoffrey’s account, the Duke recognized Uther’s admiration and lust for his wife, “When her husband perceived this, he was immediately outraged and left the court without permission” (pg 65), but Geoffrey writes nothing about Igraine’s position or response to the king’s advances. In contrast, Malory describes Igraine’s feelings on the matter and the conversation exchanged between her and her husband, “she was a passing good woman and would not assent to the king’s advances. She told the duke her husband this and said, ‘I suppose we were sent for by the king so that I should be dishonored. Wherefore, husband, I counsel that we depart from here quickly, and ride all night until we come to our own castle'” (pg 3).

    Malory’s subtle inclusion of Igraine’s discomfort and plea to her husband changes the way the reader interprets the story. It is clear that Igraine does not want the king’s attention and feels dishonored at his advances towards her. This not only empowers her as a woman but strengthens her as a character. By including a small section of dialogue between Igraine and her husband, the reader is granted more room to empathize with Igraine. Her emotional state remains present in the story because the reader was informed of her reluctance from the beginning.

    When reading Geoffrey’s version, I was not as critical of Uther’s actions because it appeared to be no more than two men fighting over a married woman. The king lost much of his honor in my opinion because he sought another man’s wife, but I was unsure whether or not Igraine may have had feelings for the king because the author had never mentioned otherwise. Her position in the matter was left unstated allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions about whether or not she truly rejected the king at the feast.

    In conclusion, I prefer Malory’s version over Geoffrey’s because it adds a level of emotional depth and empathy for the Duke and his wife. By including Igraine’s thoughts in regards to the king, Malory enhances her character by acknowledging her importance as an individual and not just an object of one man’s lust.

    The Romance of Arthur: An Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation. Ed. James Wilhelm. New York: Garland Publishing, 1994. Print.
    Malory, Thomas, and Dorsey Armstrong. Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur: A New Modern English Translation Based on the Winchester Manuscript. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor, 2009. Print.

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