In the Medieval Period, knights dedicated their lives to following the code of chivalry. In Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d”Arthur, a number of characters performed chivalrous acts to achieve the status of an ideal knight. Their characteristics of respect for women and courtesy for all, helpfulness to the weak, honor, and skill in battle made the characters King Arthur, King Pellinore, and Sir Gryfflette examples of what knights strove to be like in Medieval society. Because of the examples of chivalry, Le Morte d”Arthur showed what a knight desired to be, so he could improve the world in which he lived.
Respect for women and courtesy were two major characteristics that knights longed to develop, and King Arthur was able to demonstrate them in two specific instances. Arthur showed great respect for the Lady of the Lake. Merlin, the magician who guided Arthur as he grew to be a legendary knight advised him to “address her courteously, and do as she directed” (page 75). Arthur spoke very politely and she gave him the famous sword, Excaliber. In his respect for the lady, he also promised to give heany gift she wants because she presented him with the sword. Respectfulness to women was one quality knights strove for, but less specifically, a knight was expected to be courteous towards everyone. King Arthur demonstrated this characteristic while dealing with the Roman ambassadors. They asked for a tribute, and Arthur responded, “we shall not put you to death for your insolent words” (page 74). Then, he warned them that if they came back, he would kill them. This was considerate behavior because even though he was angry, he was polite and allowed them to leave safely. The warning also showed his courtesy because he could have not told them in anticipation of their return in order to kill them because of their disagreement. These two examples of King Arthur’s respect for the Lady of the Lake and the Roman ambassadors made him a model knight since he was obeying the code of chivalry.
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