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Trust & Deception in The Death of King Arthur

This study will examine the relationship between trust and deception in The Death of King Arthur. In fact, trust and deception are the central themes in the story of King Arthur's death, which is more accurately the story of the moral and spiritual growth of Lancelot, Arthur's primary knight. The central trust in the story is Arthur's trust toward Lancelot as knight and friend, while the major deception is Lancelot's betrayal of the King's trust through the knight's affair with the King's wife, Queen Guinevere. This betrayal plays an important part in the eventual fall of Arthur, but it also leads to the spiritual and moral awakening of Lancelot himself. In fact, all of the main characters undergo moral development in the course of their shared ordeal, but Lancelot advances more than the others because he simply has the furthest to go because of the grievous nature of his betrayal of the king.

Although the romance between Lancelot and Guinevere plays an important role in the story, its importance has to do with its moral and spiritual ramifications. The physical battles comprise a fair amount of the story, but the true struggle takes place in the minds, hearts and souls of Lancelot and the King and Queen. It is telling that the Quest itself is over, almost as if the unknown author were suggesting that that Quest was symbolic preparation for the struggle to come involving the trust of the King and the betrayal of that trust by his knight and his wife. The struggle has shifted from the physical to the spiritual, from physical heroics to the moral battlefield, perhaps also as a result of the Quest for the Holy Grail.

In fact, from the beginning of the tale, its construction is laced with deception of every sort involving almost every character in one way or another. Underlying the general deception, however, is Lancelot's self-deception--that he will not renew his adulterous affair with the queen upon return from the Quest, tha...

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Trust & Deception in The Death of King Arthur. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:32, March 20, 2019, from