Study Guide

The Defence of Guenevere Lines 165-185

By William Morris

Lines 165-185

So, ever must I dress me to the fight,

"So: let God's justice work! Gauwaine, I say,
See me hew down your proofs: yea all men know
Even as you said how Mellyagraunce one day,

"One bitter day in la Fausse Garde, for so
All good knights held it after, saw:
Yea, sirs, by cursed unknightly outrage; though

"You, Gauwaine, held his word without a flaw,
This Mellyagraunce saw blood upon my bed:
Whose blood then pray you? is there any law

"To make a queen say why some spots of red
Lie on her coverlet? or will you say:
'Your hands are white, lady, as when you wed,

"'Where did you bleed?' and must I stammer out, 'Nay,
I blush indeed, fair lord, only to rend
My sleeve up to my shoulder, where there lay

"'A knife-point last night': so must I defend
The honour of the Lady Guenevere?
Not so, fair lords, even if the world should end

"This very day, and you were judges here
Instead of God. [...]

  • Guenevere realizes she can't count on Gauwaine for mercy or pity, so she'll have to keep "fight[ing]" on her own and count on "God's justice."
  • She tells Gauwaine that she will "hew down" (cut through) his supposed "proofs" or evidence.
  • She says that everyone already knows that one day, in a place called "La Fausse Garde," a guy called "Mellyagraunce" found blood on her bed.
  • She says all that in a very roundabout way, though.
  • "La Fausse Garde" is the name of Mellyagraunce's castle – it's French for "False Castle" or "False Keep." Guenevere says that's an appropriate name, since Mellyagraunce himself was "unknightly."
  • Even though Mellyagraunce was a scummy dude, according to Guenevere, Gauwaine takes what he says at face value.
  • (Of course, Mellyagraunce – and Gauwaine – imply that the blood came from sex with Launcelot. Which wouldn't be weird if this was an episode of True Blood, but seems kind of weird here. Whatever.)
  • After all, she says, why should she, a queen, have to explain to a bunch of guys where a few drops of blood on her blanket came from?
  • She repeats what Gauwaine and Mellyagraunce said to her. They asked her where she bled, and so she'd had to "stammer" her answer because it was embarrassing.
  • They'd made her pull up her sleeve to show her bare shoulder where "a knife-point" had touched her.
  • She insists that it's absurd that she should have to defend her own honor in that way. (After all, isn't defending the honor of ladies what the knights of the Round Table were supposedly all about?)
  • Even if it were the end of the world – the Christian "Day of Judgment" – and all the knights were judging her instead of God judging her, she still thinks it's ridiculous that she should have to defend herself.

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