In Monty Python and the Holy Grail King Arthur commences on a journey to acquire the infamous Holy Grail. Throughout the movie, King Arthur encounters multiple monsters. In a medieval romance, the hero is supposed act bravely and courageously to defeat the creatures. However, the monsters featured in Monty Python are used to poke fun at the traditional quest. This is exemplified when King Arthur arrives at the entrance of the cave of Caerbannog.
The British comedy Monty Python and The Holy Grail is the story about a man, King Arthur, and his knights on a mission to find the Holy Grail. On their quest they endure the many tough obstacles of the Middle Ages. Some of these obstacles being realistic and others on the more impractical side. The movie’s filmmakers were aiming to satirize every branch of the Middle Ages such as the medieval Catholic Church, learning and education, the knight’s code of chivalry, and feudalism. One example would be the use of coconuts to imitate the sound of the horses’ hooves hitting the ground. Pathetic jokes like that were used all along the flick’s storyline.
Parodies A parody is an imitation of something, typically literature, that is exaggerated for comedic effect. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a parody of the legend of King Arthur. From downright foolishness to sophisticated satire, parodies comment on an original work and do so in an entertaining manner. Monty Python makes a mockery of the classic King Arthur story and causes some laughs along the way.
The debate on whether or not the legendary King Arthur of Camelot is real or a myth has always been there as long as all of us can remember. We have all heard stories and tales of this legendary King, and by now all of us have tried to understand the controversies behind the story of King Arthur (Gidlow,). The stories from our childhood were filled with legends, gods and fairy tales, and most of these stories were legendary myths, and we understood them as such. However, the case of King Arthur is different since it is not clear whether the story was just a myth or it was something real. The question is, how we can determine whether or not the tale of King Arthur was a myth or real.
Sir Gawain is one of King Arthur’s knights. It is Christmas time in Camelot, the time of the year where knights return home and people celebrate their achievements as well as the birth of Jesus. Every year they have a dinner with the king that must begin with a story before eating. No one has a story to tell which causes the king to postpone the dinner until, all of a sudden, a green knight appeared. This story contains ideas known as the hero’s journey.
King Arthur was said to be a great king, who ruled over Camelot in the fifth or sixth century. King Arthur estimated to have been born around 475 A.D., “Tintagel has come to be associated with King Arthur as his birthplace, depicted by the Welsh monk Geoffrey of Monmouth” (Walker para 5). Arthurian Literature commonly depicted daring sword fights, chivalrous knights, damsels in distress and even magic. Though there are few records of a true King Arthur does not mean there is not a man behind the great legend that came forth in the mid twelfth century. “The legend of King Arthur may have been based on the life of one or more Celtic warriors who fought the Anglo-Saxon invaders of England in the late fifth and early sixth century.”
“King Arthur nobility and selfless bravery made him king” (arthurian-legend.com). Sir Thomas Malory was influenced by the knights in his time to write Morte d’ Arthur and to show what the real noblemen were like. It’s safe to say that how things were in this story and how they were during the real time are quite different. The story is more myth. Malory’s own experience ended with some shame and imprisonment while his character Arthur is portrayed as only good.
Morgan Le Fay creates this challenge to test Arthur’s knights and how strong their principles are. Gawain meets this challenge and ultimately succeeds,
Arthur’s life is not very different from day to day and he does not have an exciting life. This part of Arthur’s life is easily seen as the Ordinary World of the Hero’s Journey, where Arthur’s life is nothing out of the ordinary. After the Ordinary World, the hero is given the The Call to Adventure which is when there is a calling to change the character's daily life to adventure on a new path. This stage is parallel to the novel The Sword in the Stone when Arthur is given an order, by Sir Ector, in T.H.White, Sir Ector,”...to start a quest for a new tutor as soon as he had time to do so…” (White 11).
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a medieval romance written in the late fourteenth century by an unknown author. It is part of the Arthurian legend and takes place in England during the winter. The knights of the Round Table have virtues tested when a mysterious Green Knight appears with a suspicious challenge, that leads Sir Gawain on an epic journey of self-discovery. Even though Sir Gawain is considered to be the perfect knight, his character is put to the test through a series of unbeknownst challenges that ultimately prove his true colors.
Literary Analysis of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight The selection of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight follows the basic format of the adventure. The author emphasizes communion to show the loyalty and community between King Arthur and his knights. The symbolism behind the relationship between Sir Gawain to humans and the Green Knight to the merciful God further shows the relations of this medieval romance to the Bible.
The first character I will be analyzing is Sir Gawain. Sir Gawain is one of the main characters within this story. In the beginning of the story, we see that Sir Gawain is full of optimism, eagerness, and loyalty to protect his king and his kingdom from the Green Knight. Sir Gawain is seen as the embodiment of chivalry. An example of chivalrous manners can be found such as in his speech to Arthur when he accepts the Green Knight 's challenge.
The themes of medieval narratives compared to the themes in the movie greatly differ. In the beginning of the movie, the viewer can tell that medieval literature will be mocked throughout. The opening stanzas of a medieval epic set the tone of the story that is about to be told. The film establishes that the tone will be humorous by starting off with a funny musical scene.
In the Medieval British legend King Arthur three character archetypes are prominent; the Hero, the Mentor, and the Villain. These archetypes are universal, found in myths from around the world. One ubiquitous archetype that is present in King Arthur
Both Parry and Jack play the knight and the Fisher King interchangeably throughout the movie. Parry tells Jack the story of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King. Jack has never heard of this and becomes interested when Parry tells him about it. He says that “the keeper of the Holy Grail may heal the hearts of men” (Gilliam). Both men want the Holy Grail during different parts of the movie.