© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Le Morte D'Arthur

Le Morte D'Arthur


by Sir Thomas Malory

Le Morte D'Arthur Theme of Love

With the relationships between Launcelot and Gwenyvere, and Trystram and Isode, Le Morte D'Arthur provides in-depth examples of devoted, to-the-death love between men and women. But these love affairs are both star-crossed because the woman happens to be the wife of the king and, more importantly, her lover's king, to whom each knight owes absolute loyalty and respect. Men's love for women in Le Morte, then, is a powerful, dangerous emotion.

But there's a second kind of love at work in Le Morte, and that's the love between men – overlords and their vassals, and the fellowship between knights. Although this love is between two (or more) men, in many ways it looks pretty much the same as heterosexual love. Like that love, it's motivated and earned by chivalric deeds of arms and honorable behavior, and can be easily lost when the lover fails on these counts. Yet in contrast to heterosexual love, the love between men usually saves lives and contributes to the orderliness of society rather than disrupting it. So when it comes to love, it seems that Le Morte D'Arthur is both frightened of its ability to wreak havoc, and aware of its ability to bring folks together.

Questions About Love

  1. What examples of love between men and women does Le Morte D'Arthur give? Is it always romantic love? Or can a man have love for, say, his mother or his sister?
  2. Okay, let's think about this. Do any of the love affairs between men and women in Le Morte D'Arthur actually end happily? Which ones? What distinguishes these successful relationships from the ones that don't end so well?
  3. What examples of love between men does Le Morte D'Arthur give? Does this love seem like a good thing? Is it ever bad?
  4. How do characters in Le Morte D'Arthur earn one another's love? Prove their love? Lose it?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Love between men and women in Le Morte D'Arthur is nothing but trouble. It destroys friendships, families, and – how could we forget? – all of Camelot.

Love between men and women in Le Morte D'Arthur is awesome. It provides men with a means of ennobling themselves and women with a chance to experience an emotion that marriage rarely provides.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...