ENGB31 Lecture Notes - Courtly Love, Mortal Sin, Clang

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1 Feb 2013
2/1/2013 11:42:00 AM
Narrative becomes almost allegorical; incidents freighted with religious
Ex. fiend “represented the reign of evil on earth”
“the Maidens’ castle represents the imprisonment of souls before
the incarnation of our Lord Jesu Christ, and the seven knights the
seven deadly sins which held sway at that time. And in his
deliberance of those within the Maidens’ Castle, Sir Galahad was
acting in the likeness of our Lord Jesu, who in taking upon himself
the sins of the world delivered the souls of men to heaven”
o the seven knights are an allegory of the seven deadly sins
“The meaning of this was clear to Sir Bors and he rode on his way”
But woman in not allegory for Lucifer: is Lucifer
Meaning of adventure changes
o “My son, the quest of the Holy Grail means other things than
killing your fellow men, and those are the advenetures to
which you and your fellow sinners are accustomed. You
yourself have killed many men, and that is one reason why
you shall not achieve the Holy Grail”
o “it was to be a long time before they met with any
Galahad completes the Round Table
“Merlin devised the Round Table as a symbol of the wholeness of
o analogue for Gawain’s pentangle
o only Galahad has that wholeness to intergrate the spiritual
and the worldly together
o Galahad’s prayer is to die
“Alas! What have you done? Shall not our fellowship of the Round
Table be irremediably broken? […] How can I be reconciled to the
dissolution of so close a fellowship, and to the ancient customs by
which we have been held?” p 365
Galahad: the Christian knight “without sin”
What other new (to the Morte’s knights) characteristics distinguish
him? (In what way are his adventures different? )
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o More for a bigger cause, whereas other knights are for
individual reasons
o More of a spiritual plain
o Not for glory or for the round table
o To be one with God; his spiritual experience is what allows
him to him himself up and becomes a spirit
o He is a leader; the eldest
He set his mind on higher things and wins every single
Because he is destined to do so
o The spiritual magic
Makes everything workout well for Galahad
o “spiritual” king Author
o die virgin
forced abstinence
o chastity
Blood being crucial
“[T]he knightly body is represented in quasistylized form as a
vessel containing blood, and in this it resembles the Grail itself”
“What the knight sees in the Grail vision is thus the apotheosis of
his own existence” (Jill Mann)
o the knights let their blood represent Christ’s sacrifice
o Galahad comes along and makes them good and binds all the
Crucial to Percivale’s sister
o The only lady that goes on this quest
o Chaste version of courtly love
o Role in giving her blood at the castle
Imitatio Christi
o Gives Galahad the girdle that she makes with her hair
o Only Percivale’s blood is able to stop the blood of the lady
This is her “Christ-like” role
Launcelot can’t approach the Grail “because he was in mortal sin”
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