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Chapter Summary

Thomas Malory’s Arthurian tale recurrently refers to the male body, and both the knights’ physical and spiritual integrity are of crucial significance in maintaining masculinity. The male body represents power but is also threatened by physical violence and “fleshly lusts”. Representing ideals of chivalry, masculinity in Morte Darthur oscillates between scenes of male power and experiences of anxiety. While Gareth represents moderation as a way of stabilizing the destructive forces of masculinity, Lancelot is determined to remain the strongest and most powerful knight, a position beyond control or condemnation. By avoiding the question whether Lancelot slept with the Queen, Malory transforms his gradual downfall into an epiphany of chivalric prowess. In a time of social disintegration the social acceptance of a knight’s masculinity determines whether his personal individuality is to the benefit or to the destruction of the Arthurian fellowship.



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