Study Guide

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Power

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There are all kinds of crazy, and usually ironic, power dynamics found throughout Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Arthur and his knights, despite being the brave and famous company of heroes from ancient lore, are essentially helpless. Arthur is dissed by a random guard with an interest in swallows, a politically minded peasant, a castle of rude Frenchmen, and knights who like to say a particularly nasty word too shocking to reproduce here. (Not really; they say "ni.")

Then there's the power of violence: Arthur maims the Black Knight and Lancelot carves his way through a wedding. Power is always important when you're dealing with a tale of adventure. The Holy Grail, however silly, is no different. And Dennis makes some pretty good points about power struggles among the social classes.

Questions About Power

  1. What is the power of class? Do the knights and other upper-class people have certain inherent advantages?
  2. What's the best kind of power to have in the world of The Holy Grail? What would get you farthest? The power of language? Physical power?
  3. Who is the most powerful character? Why?
  4. Does Dennis think anything in the social class system can change?

Chew on This

The Holy Grail subverts the normal quest narrative because, instead of gaining power and succeeding, the protagonists fail at everything.

Knowledge is the truest form of power in The Holy Grail. The Frenchman, the swallow-guard, Dennis, Tim, the Knights Who Say Ni: each of them is powerful because they possess some specific knowledge. The swords and shields of the Knights of the Round Table are useless.

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