Female Characters In Lancelot's Vigil

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In various Arthurian legends, such as Malory’s King Arthur and his Knight: Selected Tales, many characters find themselves involved in adulterous love affairs. Such sinful encounters with female characters hinder the completion of quests, especially for Lancelot. Bridges’s poem, “Lancelot’s Vigil,” provides insight on the consequences Lancelot faces due to infidelity. The view on Lancelot’s relationship with the female characters in each text changes from disapproval to sympathy, reflecting differing literary tastes. Although literature progresses, the main message behind the legend remains unchanged: the inability of people to confront and resolve their sins. Initially, Lancelot’s adulterous relationships with various female characters bring…show more content…
This lack of change reflects how people commit sinful acts and are incapable of fixing their mistakes. Instead of confronting their problems, some would rather run away, hoping the issue would fix itself. After having slept with Elaine, Lancelot felt dirtied by his actions, swearing to “not salew her nother speak with her” (Malory 82). He finds an escape from reality – responsibilities and consequences - and submits to his fantasy. In avoidance of discussing his adulterous act and his newly gained child, Galahad, Lancelot hides behind a false face and dodges his sin, concealing his relationship with Lady Elaine. Because Lancelot cannot progress in his relationship with Guinevere, Bridges pities Lancelot and his inability to move on from his adulterous love affair. Guinevere escapes her sin by deserting Lancelot for King Arthur, who she knew would forgive her. Death “[purges] her life / from her youth’s sin,” which allows her procession to heaven (Bridges 39-40). Guinevere is “forgiven” and given the opportunity to walk in heaven, pure of malice; whereas, Lancelot is left to suffer the pain of loss and loneliness. Death only resets Guinevere’s life, not truly correcting the sins she has committed. Though there is a change in perspective, the legend remains relatively consistent and establishes a message to readers regarding

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