Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 4, Chapter 11

By T.H. White

Book 4, Chapter 11

  • Guenever is in her sitting room at Carlisle castle, sewing. She'd much rather be in London, maybe in the Tower of London. It would be much more fun in London, with more to do and see.
  • She's discussing with her maid Agnes how Arthur and the knights are away in France, fighting against Lancelot.
  • There's lots of killing going on, and Arthur's army is destroying France just for spite.
  • Some letters have arrived, relaying how Lancelot and Gawain have fought several duels. Lancelot had the chance to kill Gawain when he was wounded, but—of course—Lancelot will not fight unfairly.
  • Arthur had a sort of nervous breakdown from all of the stress.
  • It turns out, Arthur's left Mordred in charge while he's away, as Lord Protector. The king and heir can't both be away while the country is at war.
  • Agnes notes that Mordred is getting more and more strange, and laughs to himself when nobody else is around.
  • He's sneaky enough that maybe he's spying on them right now. But no—Agnes is just joking around with Guen.
  • Just kidding! Mordred's listening at the door, and enters the room when Agnes goes to check.
  • We learn that Mordred's gone crazy because of the way his mother treated him all those years. He even keeps little lap dogs like she used to. Creepy.
  • After he enters, he starts calling Guenever "Jenny," and making some nasty insinuations.
  • He tells her that he's received a letter saying that Arthur and Lancelot are both dead; they have killed each other in battle.
  • Psych! Just kidding. They're not.
  • He's providing a point, though: that if Mordred tells people this, they will believe it.
  • Look at how easily he can become king.
  • Mordred goes off on a tangent, talking about how Morgause was a true, chaste wife before Arthur hooked up with her. After that, she became a floozy and ended up dead in bed with Sir Lamorak.
  • Guenever warns him that if he declares himself King, Arthur and his men will return to England and there will be a war on two fronts instead of just one.
  • Mordred confesses that he'll have pity on Guenever. In fact, he'll have so much pity on her, he'll marry her and get back at Arthur for sleeping with his mother by taking Arthur's wife.

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