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Le Morte D'Arthur

Le Morte D'Arthur


by Sir Thomas Malory

Le Morte D'Arthur Theme of Tradition and Customs

In Le Morte D'Arthur, Arthur's knights often arrive in mysterious castles only to find that the "custom of the castle" requires them to do something ridiculously difficult, or sometimes just plain ridiculous, like having to fight the castle's lord or even having to allow a lady to be bled. If the knight succeeded in whatever challenge was thrown at him, it provided him with an opportunity to end these barbaric practices, which is yet another way in which he can uphold his oath to promote justice and fairness wherever he goes. Often, the castle's community is just plain relieved to see the custom come to an end, which just goes to show that traditions can sometimes be a burden. But of course customs aren't always burdens. In Camelot, traditions like chivalry, holidays, and religious customs help bring stability to a violent, changing place.

Questions About Tradition and Customs

  1. What is a "custom of the castle"? What are some such customs that Arthur's knights encounter during their adventures, and how do they deal with them? Did any of these customs seem particularly ridiculous?
  2. How do family traditions control characters' behavior in Le Morte D'Arthur? Which characters choose to fulfill these traditions? Which ones rebel against them, and why? What is the effect of that rebellion?
  3. Can you think of any traditions or customs in Le Morte D'Arthur that build community?? How do these traditions do that?
  4. Are there any traditions or customs in Le Morte that have modern-day counterparts in our world? How have they changed? How have they stayed the same?

Chew on This

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

Arthur's knights fulfill their obligation to promote justice and fairness wherever they go by ending barbaric "customs of the castle." This is an example of chivalry taking the place of older, more outdated customs.

Family traditions are the most important codes of behavior in determining characters' behavior in Le Morte D'Arthur.

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