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The Politics of Violence in Malorys Treatment of the Arthurian Legend By focusing ostensibly on sex and violence Malorys rendering of the Arthurian legend becomes something quite distinct from the French originals Roger Aschams complaint that only bold baudrie and open manslaughter may be found in the Works seems to be well grounded but such a reading tends to neglect the authors most essential themes Why is violence such a fundamental aspect of these tales Malorys interest in the Arthurian legend is reflected in his dramatic and violent reworking of the original sources What appears to be a prominent interest in sex and violence is hardly gratuitous In fact Malory infuses the legend with a sense of political reality Arthurs new order or system of government may represent a golden era but it must function in a practical pragmatic world burgeoning with sin How might an exalted political ideal survive a less than exalted world Quite simply it can not Obviously concerned with worldly government and human behaviour Malory unveils a complex cast of characters from Arthur who is both Christ-like and Herod-like by turns to Lancelot who struggles in vain to renounce sin Sex and violence while certainly sensational lends a poignant yet gritty realism to the Arthurian legend It is through this violent jarring realism that Malory unveils a distinctly political and worldly agenda Malory focuses on Camelot as a worldly ideal Arthurs rise to rule is rife with Christ imagery but it is also contradicted by markedly Herodic overtones His reign is linked to the coming of the Christian church Sanctioned by God the sword test is the means by which Arthur is able to rise from obscurity and eventually rule England Arthur as the chosen one is anticipated and proclaimed at the onset of the Works and a new form of political society may be
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