William Morris's Role In Arthurian Revival

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The legend of King Arthur has been told for centuries. Passing on the legend from generation to generation however, has been difficult. The end of the Middle Ages accompanied a waning of interest in King Arthur (Fulton, 2009). This was partially due to nature of politics at the time (Taylor and Brewer, 1983). However, during the nineteenth century, the Legend of King Arthur was revived (Fulton, 2009). Through poetry, William Morris helped achieve this resurrection of King Arthur using many poetic devices (Fulton, 2009). This essay analysis William Morris’ role in Arthurian revival

Arthurian Revival
In Victorian Britain, medievalism sparked the literary and cultural phenomenon: Arthurian revival (Fulton, 2009). Culturally, Arthurian themes
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Common themes in his poem are love triangles, moral and politics dilemmas, violence, emotional crisis, rejection, magical charms and the defeat of love. Additionally, Morris employed a wide variety of “linguistic devices, narrative techniques, and shifting points of view to portray a decaying, war-torn world in which handsome suffering women and lonely men observe love from an embattled distance” (Boos, 1996). In The Defence of Guenevere, it is evident that Morris’ poems are often allusions or reflections of Malory’s texts. It is due to this quality that critics characterize Morris as having the “ability to decant new wine from an empty bottle” (Boos, 1996). Although Morris drew on Tennyson’s work, he also undermined Tennyson’s perception and portrayal of history (Boos, 1996). For Morris, clichéd portrayals of knightly courage, romantic love and heroism was boring if there was no element of momentous struggle or loss as it “gave voice to the deepest expression of human experience (Boos,…show more content…
Firstly, he did not make use of the Elaine story (Boos, 1996). This could be due to the fact that he did not want to reduce Launcelot and Guenevere’s story and well as the morality linked to it. Secondly, he rarely included Arthur (in terms of both a ruler and a husband) in his poems. (Boos, 1996). This is possibly due to the fact that he found Launcelot’s struggles more interesting and sympathetic than Arthur’s, and that Morris wanted to his poetry to explore “the tensions of passionate and reciprocal love.” Thirdly, his empowerment of Guenevere was in great contrast to Malory’s depiction of her (Boos, 1996). Malory’s Guenevere depends on men (Sir Launcelot and Sir Bors) to defend herself against false public charges of treason. Additionally, she does not choose her defense or give any description of her life. Morris’ Guenevere however, defends herself against the false charges of treason, chooses her own defense and gives a narrative description of her life. Morris also gives Guenevere’s character more layers and dimensions.

The era of Arthurian revival was an exciting time in which the culture of King Arthur was reawakened in Britain and well as Arthurian literature. Morris’ work in The Defense of Guenevere demonstrated both
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