Le Morte D'Arthur
How we cite our quotes:
"I love nat to be constrayned to love, for love muste only aryse of the harte selff, and nat by none constraynte."
"That ys trouth, sir, seyde the Kynge, "and with many knyghtes love ys fre in hymselffe, and never woll be bonde; for where he ys bonden he lowsith hymselff." (617.33-38)
Launcelot and Arthur express a romantic notion of love as a free choice between individuals, which means that it probably doesn't exist in marriage all that often. After all, in Camelot, most marriages are arranged according to family and financial obligations. Ah, so that explains why so much of the romantic love we see in Le Morte occurs outside wedlock.
"Wyte you well I shall love you and truste you the more bettir. For ever hit ys," seyde Kynge Arthure, "a worshypfull knyghtes dede to help and succoure another worshypfull knyght whan he seeth hym in daungere." (624.12-15)
Arthur's love for Gareth grows when Gareth defends Launcelot in battle. It seems that the love between men is motivated by the same thing that motivates the love between men and women – honorable deeds of arms. But Shmoop is here to warn you: don't try this at home. Jousting every guy you meet is not the way to get a date for the prom.
For, lyke as wynter rasure dothe allway arace and deface grene summer, so faryth hit by unstable love in man and woman […] Lat every man of worshyp florysh hys herte in thys worlde, firste unto God, and, and nexte unto the joy of them that he promysed hys feythe unto
[...] But firste reserve the honoure to God, and secundely thy quarell must com of thy lady – and suche love I calle vertuouse love. (624.37-38, 46-48, 50-625.2)
In one of his rare comments on the events of the story, the narrator laments the lack of "stable" love between men and women and calls noblemen to love God first, their woman second, and both with a faithfulness that withstands the test of time. Since Launcelot is the master of faithful love, this may be the narrator's attempt to defend his hero. Too bad he hasn't mastered the whole God part of the equation.