Le Morte D'Arthur
by Sir Thomas Malory
Le Morte D'Arthur Theme of Revenge (or Vengeance)
In Le Morte D'Arthur, a desire for vengeance brings down the Round Table. It's about as simple as that. First, there's the blood feud that began early in the story, with Pellynore's slaying of King Lot. Then there's the grudge that emerges when Gawain's brothers are accidentally slain by Launcelot. Add that to the fact that on their many adventures these knights are often tasked with avenging who-knows-who's death, and you've got a pretty vengeful Camelot. But does all this vengeance get anybody anywhere? Not really. In fact, The futility and destructiveness of vengeance is undeniable, even when it is undertaken honorably. It usually ends badly for just about everyone involved, which begs the question – why are all these knights so vengeful in the first place?
Questions About Revenge (or Vengeance)
- How does the blood feud between the descendants of Lot and Pellynore contribute to the fall of the Round Table?
- How does "The Tale of Balyn and Balan" explore the effects of vengeance?
- Which characters in Le Morte D'Arthur are most vengeful? What character traits do these guys display, and how do they compare with the character traits of non-vengeful knights like Launcelot?
- Does Le Morte D'Arthur explore any alternatives to vengeance? If so, what are they?
Chew on This
The fact that it contributes to the fall of the Round Table shows us that vengeance is very destructive and totally pointless.
Gawain's reconciliation with Sir Launcelot is too little, too late. He has already gone too far down the path of blood feuds and vengeful violence, and there's nothing he can do to make it right.