An Epic Hero for Modern Times
In about 1470, Thomas Malory finished Morte d' Arthur, the
first of the many legends written about King Arthur. Even in modern
times, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are a favorite
subject in movies, books, and plays. Often times this is so because the
Medieval Period in general, and King Arthur in particular, have an air
of mystery, romance, fantasy, and adventure that are popular themes in
all times and cultures. I compared Malory's Morte d' Arthur with
Camelot, a movie produced in 1967 that stars Richard Harris as King
Arthur and Vanessa Redgrave as Guenevere.
Camelot covers the period in Arthur's life from when he meets
his future wife Guenevere to the beginning of his siege against Sir
Lancelot's castle in France. The short excerpt of Morte d' Arthur tells
of how King Arthur abandons his assault on Lancelot to defend
Camelot and all of England from Mordred.
Because Camelot seems to
immediately precede Morte d' Arthur and there is no overlap in the
story, the way the plot is handled in each work cannot be debated. I
will however, discuss the mood, tone, and characterization of a few
key figures in the two works.
One difference in character that I found was that in the
introduction to Morte d' Arthur, Mordred is referred to as King
Arthurs nephew. Later in the text, when Arthur and Mordred are
fighting (p. 96, para.1) it says, '. . . so he smote his father King Arthur
with his sword holden in both hands, upon the side of the head . . .'
In Camelot, Mordred is Arthur's illegitimate son, although he keeps
this a secret. This possibly explains the contradiction of Mordred's
position in the two pieces. Another difference...