Study Guide

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Traditions and Customs

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Traditions and Customs

The Middle Ages were a time of transition when it comes to religious beliefs and traditions. On the one hand, they signaled the rapid spread of Christianity; on the other they were affected by lingering pagan beliefs—there are a lot of non-Christian legends like the Lady of the Lake and Excalibur, as well as sorcerers and monsters.

Of course, Monty Python and the Holy Grail doesn't just ridicule the pagan side of things. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is some biting commentary on the intersection of religion and violence. The flagellant monks and even God himself get skewered. The Pythons were always irreverent, but The Holy Grail was their most serious and focused effort to lampoon religion… until Life of Brian blew it out of the water.

Questions About Traditions and Customs

  1. What is the divine right of Kings? Does gaining Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake really make Arthur worthy, or, as Dennis says, is she just a "watery tart"?
  2. What happens when science intrudes on the traditions and beliefs? Take the witch trial scene for example. Is the scientific method used to contradict or reinforce tradition? Or is science really used at all?
  3. Can you think of all the traditions and beliefs mocked during the film? We've got quotes about cat torture and flagellation, but what else is happening?

Chew on This

The entire film blows up the beloved British tradition of knights in shining armor, not to mention chivalry, chastity, courtly love, and courage.

The entire film blows up the traditional process of filmmaking.

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