The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King

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The Once and Future King Book 3, Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
These are the first of Lancelot's famous quests. Here are just a few examples of many quests over many months: one day, Lancelot comes across a knight (who is Sir Carados) in armor with another bloodied knight tied up on his horse. Lancelot stops the knight and, realizing the bloodied knight is Sir Gawaine, challenges the knight to a joust for the prisoner. The two joust and Lancelot quickly kills Sir Carados and frees Gawaine.
Over the course of Arthur's reign, many knights undertake many quests—in attempts to use their Might in the name of Right and uphold justice. All the knights Lancelot kills while questing are those from the old era—when darkness and barbarism reigned.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
Lancelot continues on; while sleeping, a pageant of four women come across him, the leader of which is Morgan Le Fay. Morgan enchants Lancelot and carries him off to the Castle Chariot where he is imprisoned. Lancelot refuses to become Morgan's lover and so is left tied up. However, the serving girl asks Lancelot whether, if she frees him, he will fight for her father in a tournament. Lancelot agrees; the maid frees him and Lancelot fights and wins the tournament for her father.
While being a mechanism to bring justice to England, there is also a trial component to the questing genre—that each adventure is also a trial to test the spiritual purity of the knight. Hence, in this trial, Lancelot is asked to take one of the witches as mistress, but rejects this offer because he is in love with Guenever.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
Next on his travels, Lancelot comes across a damsel riding a white mare; he asks her if there is an adventure to be found. She tells him about a strong and evil knight who has imprisoned sixty-four other knights. Lancelot rides with the woman to this knight's castle, passing along the way sixty-four pairs of armor hung up in a glade. They wait outside the castle gates and eventually an enormous knight comes riding towards them with another knight tied up upon his horse. Lancelot challenges the knight to a joust.
The knight Lancelot will fight is, much like Mr. Pike from Wart's early adventures, an instinctive and perverse killer who, under King Uther's rule, was allowed to commit injustice simply because he had the knightly strength and skill to do so.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
This joust is unlike other's Lancelot has attempted: the knight is almost equally matched with Lancelot. The fight goes on, they knock each other to the ground and proceed for hours with swords. Eventually, the knight stops and says that he has been so impressed with Lancelot's skill he will release all the prisoners unless he is one specific knight: Sir Lancelot. (It turns out the evil knight is Sir Turquine, Sir Carados' brother who Lancelot had killed). The pair continue fighting and Lancelot eventually kills him. The sixty-four knights are freed and Lancelot continues on his questing.
Although Lancelot succeeds in killing the knight and freeing the prisoners, this quest for Lancelot is as much about proving his knightly skills as it is about Right and justice—hence he asks the damsel where he can find an "adventure" rather than about curing injustice. Lancelot is part of Arthur's new order but is still unable to do away with all the old ideas of chivalry.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
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