Le Morte D'Arthur
by Sir Thomas Malory
Le Morte D'Arthur Betrayal Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Page.Line) [from Malory, Thomas. Le Morte D'Arthur. Stephen H. A. Shepherd, ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2004. Print.]
Than seyde Sir Launcelot, "Fye uppon hym, untrew knyght to his lady! That so noble a knyght as Sir Trystrames is sholde be founde to his fyrst lady and love untrew, that is the Quene of Cornwayle!" (272.7-9)
Launcelot, like Trystram, is having an affair with his king's wife. Launcelot repeatedly rejects other women out of his utter loyalty to Gwenyvere. Trystram, on the other hand, has the gall to marry another woman besides his beloved Isode. So who's the better paramour? Plus, notice that Trystram is scorned for marrying someone different from his love, but no one (except for Mark) seems at all upset that Isode has brazenly and repeatedly stepped out on her man, King Mark.
"Alas madame! The good love that I have lovyd you, and many londis and grete rychesse have I forsakyn for youre love! And now ye are a traytouras unto me, whych dothe me grete payne." (299.33-35)
Isode's acceptance of another man's love letters, which is what Trystram is referring to here, is a forbidden intimacy for a woman who is already in a relationship (or two). What's interesting is that Isode's real betrayal is to Trystram, who is supposed to be her true love, and not to Mark, who is her actual husband. In this case, love seems to be much more important than marriage.
And whan Sir Trystramys was in the se, he seyde, "Grete well Kyng Marke and all myne enemyes, and sey to hem I woll com agayne whan I may. And sey hym well am I rewarded for the fyghtyng with Sir Marhalt [...] And many othir dedys have I done for hym – and now have I my waryson!" (306.17-20, 33-34)
Trystram ironically "thanks" Mark for his treatment of him in exchange for all he's done. This speech reminds us of one by Launcelot at the end of Le Morte, in which he recounts all the times he's gotten Arthur and his knights out of trouble. What they're both saying, rather sarcastically, we might add, is that Arthur or Mark should overlook a man's adultery with his wife as long as that man remains a loyal knight on the battlefield. Do you agree?