Lancelot Character Analysis Essay
Lancelot uses his wisdom and trickery to achieve his goal of rescuing his lover, Guinevere. His determination to use all means possible to get her from the custody of the evil Meleagant indicates his love for her and that he can sacrifice everything in order to remain at his side (DeTroyes and Comfort 22). However, in the process of rescuing Guinevere, he encounters challenges after ending up without a horse. Meleagant had visited King Arthur’s court and convinced him to allow him to take Guinevere to her homeland. He uses this chance to imprison her and boasts of having freed other people from the king’s grip. On his way to rescue Guinevere, without a horse, Lancelot can only ride in a dwarf’s cart who claims that he can share information about the queen’s location. Individuals who ride in this cart bring shame to them since it is meant to transport criminals (DeTroyes and Cline 24). Lancelot’s determination to rescue Guinevere makes him ride in it, which brings shame to him as a knight and causes confusion among the people he encounters on the way. The act makes Lancelot a person willing to sacrifice the privileges in his life in order to fight for the one he loves.
Lancelot’s hesitation before getting into the cart indicates the risk of considering the ride, which would take away all his privileges. The dwarf with the cart told him that he had information regarding Guinevere’s location but would only disclose the details if he rode with him (DeTroyes and Comfort 25). Lancelot hesitated to think about the choice that he had to make, including the shortest but dangerous route. Although the two available routes were hard and dangerous as Lord Gawain had suggested, Lancelot chose the riskiest one, the sword-bridge instead of the water-bridge and prayed God for His protection. Equally, as a knight, riding in the cart would send the wrong message to the people who may regard him as a criminal who deserves punishment. The love for Guinevere “blindfolds” him and only focuses on getting to her. He sacrifices everything in his life for her because he feels that love conquers any obstacle (DeTroyes and Comfort 27). The hesitation proves that the decision that Lancelot had to make would secure the freedom of Guinevere.
The journey to rescue Guinevere was a dangerous one and Lancelot chose the sword-bridge, which indicated that he would use all the means necessary to cross to the other side. Based on his thoughts, the route that he chose had creatures such as lionesses that would devour him in case he encountered the animals (DeTroyes and Comfort 32). In order to make it to the other side of the stream, he removes the armor from his hands and feet and supports himself with bare hands and feet upon the sharp sword. Due to his love for Guinevere, he had no fear of wounds on his feet and hands and had prepared himself to suffer as he crossed the bridge. A slight mistake would have seen him plunge into the “violent” water rapids (DeTroyes and Cline 35). The injuries play a significant role in the story since they communicate how Lancelot suffers physically and emotionally due to his undying love for Guinevere.
In the story “Lancelot or the Knight of the Cart,” women play an active role, which allows the readers to understand the lifestyle of members of society portrayed in the narration. Guinevere plays a central role in the story since she attracts the attention of Meleagant and Lancelot, who want to keep her (DeTroyes and Comfort 22). The former uses trickery to retrieve Guinevere from King Arthur’s care and decides to take her as a prisoner. However, due to his undying love for her, Lancelot vows to fight for her and risks his life as he tries to rescue Guinevere from the evil Meleagant’s hands. Throughout his journey to King Arthur’s kingdom, Lancelot encounters a number of beautiful women and kind girls who aid him and give him hope to focus on his objectives (DeTroyes and Comfort 26). The dwarf he had encountered on his way informed him that Guinevere had gone to Gorre in the company of Meleagant.
Toward the end of the story, a devious dwarf who works for Meleagant tricks Lancelot and takes him captive. A fake letter purportedly sent by Lancelot to Guinevere indicates that he had returned to Arthur’s court and that she would find him at this place (DeTroyes and Comfort 49). However, after everyone had realized that Lancelot had not arrived at the court, they assumed that someone had captured him. Guinevere had looked forward to the battle between Lancelot and Meleagant in a year’s time since the latter had imprisoned her for no reason. Based on the events of the story, the reader expects the story to have a happy ending, especially involving the issue of romance between Guinevere and Lancelot. However, during the battle, Lancelot fails to follow Guinevere’s instructions since she wanted him to fight “badly” and in a cowardly way (DeTroyes and Comfort 57). Lancelot’s hatred for Meleagant enraged him and decided to kill him during their final fight. The decision did not augur well with Guinevere, which ended their romantic relationship.
DeTroyes, Chrétien, and Ruth H. Cline. Lancelot, Or, the Knight of the Cart. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990.
DeTroyes, Chretien, and W. W. Comfort. Lancelot; Or, the Knight of the Cart. Athens; London: University of Georgia Press, 1914.