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Lancelot In "The Knight Of The Cart". Refers Also To Odysseus

1632 words - 7 pages

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good (Romans 12:9).' This principal seems to be markedly evident as one closely examines the actions and thoughts behind the character of Sir Lancelot in The Knight of the Cart. When one encounters the adventures of Odysseus in The Odyssey, however, the values of a completely different and slightly opposing culture present themselves. In the medieval times of Sir Lancelot, an ideal man would tend to follow the teachings of the Bible and live a relatively mild-mannered life. On the other hand, in the culture of the Ancient Greeks, the 'perfect' role-model for life would be Odysseus and his perspicacious adventures involving ...view middle of the document...

This is best demonstrated in The Knight of the Cart when Lancelot fights the knight that repeatedly taunts him about riding in the cart. Although he initially shows this knight mercy by giving him another chance to fight against him, this compassion is revoked as Lancelot wins for a second time and beheads the knight. Lancelot reveals, by this action, a desire to be just to all; he wants to be generous to the girl while showing compassion to the defeated knight. Another shared feature in the personalities of Lancelot and Odysseus is their interminable desire to follow through on their quest to which they have devoted a large portion of their lives. Even though, in the case of Odysseus, this quest is not one that is embarked upon voluntarily, he pursues it with a passion so rich and intense that it can hardly go unnoticed to the attentive reader. This is also the case with Lancelot and his continuous efforts at attaining the fleetlingly elusive love of Guinevere. This is illustrated at the numerous points in the story when Lancelot sacrifices himself or his own needs to satiate those of the queen. This passion shared by both Lancelot and Odysseus is a common thread between the two and represents at least one similarity between the viewpoints of the Greeks and the medieval Europeans.The cultures of the medieval Europeans and the Greeks do, in fact, share many similarities; however as one probes deeper into the characters represented in their literature, it usually appears that the converse is true. Although both men represent the heroic ideal, this ideal is quite different to Greek society than it was in the twelfth-century Europe. For instance, the way that the hero views himself varies exceptionally between the two cultures. Odysseus commits the terrible sin of hubris on numerous occasions in The Odyssey. For instance, when Odysseus and his crew must pass the sirens to return to Ithaca, Odysseus insists that he be tied to the front of the boat with his ears plugged so he can accomplish the feat that no other man before him could do. The opposite is true for Lancelot as is evident at numerous points in the story. One example of Lancelot's selflessness is during the contest when Guinevere tells him to do his worst. Because of Lancelot's devotion to his love and her every word, he deliberately embarrasses himself in every event to prove his undying faithfulness. The issue of loyalty is another pronounced difference in the characters of Odysseus of Lancelot. To Odysseus, loyalty apparently did not mean faithfulness to his loving and persevering wife, Penelope. This is shown when Odysseus has sex with Calypso and Circe obviously for his own pleasure and in no way for the sake of his wife. On the other hand, Lancelot agrees to sleep with the girl who offers him lodging only after pleading with her not to make him sleep with her. He did this not because the girl was unattractive for he states, 'Many men would have thanked her five hundred times for...

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