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.]
"I have sworne and seyde over-largely afore Kynge Arthure, in hyrynge of all hys knyghtes, [that I shal not sle nor bitraye hym; it were to me overmoche shame] to breke my promyse."
"Ye sey well," seyde Sir Launcelot, "but ye ar called so false and full of felony that no man may beleve you." (367.16-21)
Everyone knows that King Mark will never keep his promise to treat Trystram well, because he keeps breaking practically every promise he makes. Sheesh. We might read this as the narrator's attempt to make Trystram and Isode's affair seem like less of a betrayal. After all, how much loyalty does a knight or a queen owe to a king who doesn't seem all that loyal (or true to his word) in the first place?
And Quene Isode was lad unto her pavelons; but wyte you well she was wrothe oute of mesure wyth Sir Palomydes, for she saw all his treson, from the begynnynge to the endynge. (445.24-27)
The "treson" Isode has witnessed is Palomides's decision to fight against Trystram in a joust despite having formerly promised to fight with him. Of course Palomydes only did this out of jealous, so the irony here is that he actually gets further away from ever possessing Isode by causing her to think badly of him as a knight. Maybe he should have thought that one through.
"All thys ys trouthe," seyde Sir Bors, "but there ys one thyng shall corrayge you and us all: ye know well that Kynge Arthure and Kynge Marke were never lyke of conducions, for there was never yet man that ever coude preve Kynge Arthure untrew of his promyse." (654.19-23)
King Mark may be a big fat oath-breaker, but Arthur is never "untrew of his promise." Our man always keeps his word. But here's the interesting part. If Mark's trouble keeping his word frees Trystram and Isode of guilt about their affair, Arthur's "trueness" condemns Launcelot and Gwenyvere for theirs.