The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King

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The Once and Future King Book 3, Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, Lancelot and Elaine are summoned to Guenever's chamber. Lancelot is content; the night before he had been summoned to Guenever's chamber in the darkness and they had made up in silence. When the two enter the Queen's chamber, she is stiff and drained of color. She asks Lancelot quietly, "Where did you go last night?" Lancelot is confused; Guenever's stiffness breaks and she screams at Lancelot to leave her castle immediately.
History has repeated itself—once more Elaine has seduced Lancelot and tricked Guenever. Elaine is a complex character and White describes her in such a manner that the reader simultaneously emphasizes with her plight, respects her, but also deeply condemns her.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Fate (Time) Theme Icon
Elaine speaks calmly: "Lancelot was in my room last night…He thought he was coming to you." The Queen does not believe the same lie again, she screams at Lancelot and Elaine. Finally, Lancelot (who has been sitting in a ball on the floor, speaking "Guenever" and "Arthur") gives a loud shriek, hurls himself through the window (the room is on the first floor) and runs off through the grounds.
Lancelot's descent into madness is an unexpected turn and exposes his fundamental weakness: he is deeply loyal to both Guenever and Arthur but, fearing now that he has betrayed them both, he cannot bear it and his deep sense of impurity overwhelms his mind, turning him mad.
Themes
Fate (Time) Theme Icon
Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon