Malory's Le Morte Darthur

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In Malory’s tale of Le Morte Darthur, the element of time and spatial description is sparse throughout the narration. When knights are out questing there is the typical pattern of departing, riding through a forest, and then fighting. There are very few details about how old a character is, what time of the year is, or even what types of trees are in the forest. It is this lack of description that allows the audience to imagine what the backdrop to this story might look like and how it might effect the interpretation the narrative. This painting presented shows an abstract scene of Malory’s wood or forest, which is a noteworthy feature of the Romance that is not fully described by Malory himself. The wood is like a portal for knights to…show more content…
Definitions of wood provided by the Norton Critical Edition of Le Morte Darthur include: wood and trees as a noun, but also mad, insane, and fierce as an adjective (937), and there are at least thirty-three instances this spelling shows up within the text. The double usage of this word works to Malory’s devise as he parallels physical setting to mental setting to create a sense of identity. Sir Trystram is named after his difficult birth in the wood when his mother “was farre in the foreste, she myght no farther; but ryght there she gan to travayle faste of hir chylde, and she had many grimly throwys,” (228). Moreover, Trystram seeks comfort in a forest when King Mark exiles him from Cornwall. Sir Lancelot also goes out into the woods when he has been shamed by sleeping with Elaine, and “suffird and endured many sharpe showres, that ever ran wylde wood from place to place.” (480). Natural settings tend to be a calming setting and a place to reflect. Both knights in their state of wood come into a wood, which again is not a territory held by any rulers’ command, to strip away their identity and take a break from their difficult circumstances. The melting sword and shield are representations of this idea that identity is flimsy when out in the woods since these knights are mentally

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