Reclaiming Arthur: Malory's Anglicization of the Arthurian tradition in Le Morte Darthur.

No Thumbnail Available
Ray, Brian
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur is a landmark English prose work that places the Arthurian tales, the matter of Britain, into the history of England. Malory drew on the French romance material associated with King Arthur and created a comprehensive account of Arthur's life and his ideals. His work reflects a synthesis of the best of the narrative tools of Malory's French and English romance sources and many narrative characteristics of earlier literary genres. Commonly known as a romance, Le Morte Darthur is something other than mere romance.
An analysis of structure, theme, and genre, measured against Malory's sources, reveals that Le Morte Darthur casts Arthur in an heroic English role. The narrative structure of Malory's text reflects the cyclic nature of Fortune's wheel and focuses the story on the character of Arthur. Malory presents an image of heroic chivalry in the actions of Arthur and his knights that reflects the heroic principles of the English Anglo-Saxon heritage. The rise and fall of Arthur and his ideals are the focus of Malory's work, and the changes that Malory made to the character of Arthur emphasize characteristics of kings and leaders depicted in medieval heroic literature. For Malory, the heroic king is an English king, a strong King Arthur modeled on an heroic ideal found in the hearts and minds of the common people and rooted in the history of England.
Le Morte Darthur has been called a romance, but it contains narrative elements of epic, chronicle, and history. Malory is writing about characters and events from the history of his England. He uses the elements of heroic age literature to tell, in English, the history of an English king and his reign, for an English audience. Le Morte Darthur is a history of King Arthur. In effect, it reclaims Arthur from the French romance tradition and places the story of his life and his ideals, the matter of Britain, in its proper place in the history of its English audience.
Directors: William Connelly; Keith Taylor.