ARTHURIAN ROMANCES.docx - ARTHURIAN ROMANCES Chru00e9tien...

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ARTHURIAN ROMANCES Chrétien de Troyes Chrétien de Troyes's masterpiece Lancelot, The Knight of the Cart is a riveting tale of knightly valor and courtly love. This romance marks the first known appearance of Lancelot as a major player in the Arthurian canon, and it also provides the first account of his affair with Guinevere. The first half of the narrative follows Lancelot (then unnamed) as he rescues Guinevere, who has been taken hostage by the evil Méléagant. Méléagant visits Arthur's court, boasting that he has ensnared many from Arthur's land (Logres). He ultimately convinces Arthur through trickery to give him Guinevere, and sets out to bring her to his homeland of Gorre as another prisoner. When Lancelot ends up without a horse, he encounters a dwarf with a cart, who claims to have information about the queen's whereabouts. However, he will not share his information unless Lancelot ride in his pillory cart, which is usually reserved for criminals, and hence brings shame to any who ride in it. Lancelot nevertheless rides in the cart, which brings him much shame and causes confusion amongst many he encounters. On the way to Guinevere, Lancelot is aided by a number of beautiful women and kindly girls. He encounters hostile and arrogant knights, and must constantly defend his character. Initially, he travels with Sir Gawain, but they eventually part to take different routes to Gorre. Lancelot chooses the faster, more dangerous rouge of the Sword Bridge, which is literally a large sword blade.
He arrives in Gorre, to discover that Guinevere is angry with him, for reasons she does not initially disclose. There, he also discovers that the ruler is the kindly and reasonable King Bademagu, who stands in stark contrast to his mischievous son Méléagant. Rebuked by Guinevere, Lancelot leaves to find Sir Gawain, who attempted to cross a different bridge, and has not been seen. While Lancelot is gone, Guinevere hears false rumors of his death, and decides to show him warmth. Lancelot returns to Bademagu's court, and Guinevere confesses that her coldness resulted from the hesitation he showed before leaping into the cart. Reunited, they share a passionate night together, but Lancelot bleeds on her sheets, and Méléagant accuses her of adultery. To defend her honor, Lancelot fights Méléagant. King Bademagu intercedes to end the battle, and Lancelot promises to fight Méléagant within a year's time at King Arthur's court. By this time, the people of Logres are free to leave Gorre. If the first half of the narrative centers around Guinevere’s imprisonment, the second half is driven by Lancelot’s incarceration.Lancelot and his party set out again to find Gawain, but Lancelot is tricked by a devious dwarf, a henchman of Méléagant, who takes him captive. A fake letter from Lancelot is sent to Guinevere, insisting she return to Arthur’s court, where she will find him. Meanwhile, Lancelot's party finds Gawain, who is also fooled by the letter.

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