The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King Book 3, Chapter 37 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The morning of the fight dawns—Arthur and Guenever barely slept the night before. A pavilion has been erected for the event where Guenever will be burned at the stake if her champion loses. Before Arthur began his work, his Queen would never have been put on trial. Just now a new idea was beginning to form in the King's mind about justice—about using Right as a criterion unto itself that does not lean on power to carry out justice (in a few years, he would invent Civil Law).
Arthur continually attempts to establish new forms of governance, which might be better and more just. White, quite untruthfully, attributes the invention of Civil Law to Arthur, to emphasize his position as a political innovator. It is worth noting that is the trial of honor of the queen that leads Arthur to change his court system, but that the changed court system—which is more just—still leads to Guenever being embroiled in an even more damaging trial later on. No matter the improvements that Arthur makes, he cannot remove the cruelty inherent in men (or women) or their manipulation of his improved systems.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
It is cold and Guenever sitting in the stands, looks older than ever. Naturally, Lancelot is the one to rescue her—Sir Bors had sped off to find Lancelot as soon as the Queen had asked him to be her champion. Sir Mador proceeds from the south end and proclaims the accusation. There is a long period of silence and the audience becomes restless. Then, out of the north end, Lancelot rides wearing Sir Bors' armor—although it is apparent it is Lancelot. Lancelot dismounts Sir Mador and, after a brief skirmish with swords, unhelms him. After the victory, King Arthur comes down from the box, leading a sobbing Guenever, and bows before Lancelot.
Lancelot's sudden re-appearance does, to a certain extent, re-establish him as a chivalrous knight. Moreover, White describes his entry as both chivalric, but also expected—as though he was never going to have done anything but this. This description deflates the magnanimous nature of his return.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon