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All ye who enter here be prepared to do battle with the forces of ignorance and lassitude, and to step into a world of chivalry, magic, high adventure and fantasy-- the world of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

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Students will explore the world of King Arthur and his knights through a translation of selected excerpts from the text Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory and through video. They will further analyze the Arthurian legend as an archetype for the Star Wars movies.


Tournament Pursuits

swirl10.gif (5080 bytes) Plot swirl10.gif (5080 bytes) Point of View
swirl10.gif (5080 bytes) Characters swirl10.gif (5080 bytes) Theme
swirl10.gif (5080 bytes) Setting swirl10.gif (5080 bytes) Arthurian Legend as Archetype
swirl10.gif (5080 bytes) Assignments swirl10.gif (5080 bytes) Projects
swirl10.gif (5080 bytes) Code of Chivalry (available after completion of classroom assignment)

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Le Morte d'Arthur

episodic narrative humorous
21 separate tales serious
disintegration of society tragic
death of heroes hope is eternal
Key Ideas
heroic adventures and glory
chivalry, courtly love, and the order of the Round Table
magic, prophecy, and mystery
loyalty to the king

man vs. man

man vs. self

man vs. society

man vs. fate

We will be studying three of the 21 books or episodes by Malory.
1st section: Arthur Becomes King (birth, upbringing, accessions to throne) swordrock.gif (7897 bytes)
2nd section: Tale of Sir Lancelot (adventures of Lancelot, code of chivalry)
3rd section: Death of Arthur (final battle, disappearance)
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King Uther Pendragon Arthur's father, mediocre king, deceived Arthur's mother, fathered Arthur, when husband killed in battle married Igerne, buried at Stonehenge
Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall (Tintagel) Igraine's first husband, battled Uther
Igerne (Igrayne, Yguerne, Igraine) Arthur's mother, queen to Uther

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advisor to Arthur, druid, wizard, constructed Stonehenge
Morgan le Fey (Morgain, Morgana) half-sister to Arthur, sorceress, mother of Mordred (?), seduced Arthur, foe to Arthur, one of the Avalon nine sisters, healing powers, attempts to seduce Lancelot
Morguase half-sister to Arthur, mother of Mordred by Arthur, one of  ladies of Avalon, mother of Gawain
Arthur King of Britain, designer of Camelot
Sir Ector raised Arthur in boyhood
Kay Ector's son, Arthur's friend and Seneschal
Lady of the Lake (Viviane, Nimue) Lady of Avalon, gave Arthur Excalibur, enchants Merlin, seals him in tomb (tree)
Guinevere (Gwynevere) Queen to Arthur, in love with Lancelot,  forced to wed Mordred, died in a nunnery
Lancelot du Lac French knight, bravest and fiercest, loves Guinevere, becomes a hermit
Mordred Arthur's illegitimate son, nephew, wants Guinevere, challenges Arthur for throne, kills Arthur
Galahad purest of knights, Lancelot's son, finds Holy Grail lknight.gif (2955 bytes)
Bedivere Knight of Round Table, throws Excalibur in lake


wpe7.jpg (8056 bytes) The sword Excalibur was given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake. Its powers in battle were legendary, but the scabbard for the sword was even more important. It was said that as long as Arthur had the scabbard, he would not bleed. Legend says that Morgan le Fey had an identical scabbard made which did not have magical powers. She exchanged the fake for the real, and thus Arthur was no longer immortal.
As Arthur lay dying, he asked Bedivere to throw Excalibur back into the lake to prevent its further use and the chance it might fall into corrupt hands. The Lady of the Lake retrieves Excalibur as it is thrown and the sword is carried into the lake, never more to be seen.
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geography and time
Camelot castle of Arthur and Guinevere, utopia
castles homes for knights and ladiescastleica.gif (3154 bytes)
Stonehenge circle of stones, magic power, said to be constructed by Merlin, place of   druid worship
Le Val Sans Retour Valley of No Return, Morgan's home
Castle of the Valley of no Return Morgan's castle, holds Lancelot captive here, no knight who was unfaithful in word, thought, or deed could escape this castle, Lancelot escapes
forests primeval forests associated with magic and druids
Tintangel home of Gorlois and Igraine, besieged by Uther
Isle of Avalon magic isle where Arthur was taken after final battle to be healed or die
middle ages time period for legend
golden age utopia produced by Camelot
general environment
religion originally polytheistic druids, overridden by Christianity, more and more Christian influence, little separation between church and state
social definite class system, feudal system, women cherished, code of chivalry, courtly love
family structure women had no say in whom they married; marriages for land and position in aristocracy; work and reproduction in lower classes; relationships, love, outside of marriage common
recreation aristocracy - tournaments (knights played at battles, jousts)
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Point of View


occasional editorializing

narrator generally objective



Questions to ponder

What are the qualities of a good leader?
What is the responsibility of the individual?
What is the role of fate in Arthurian Legend?
What is the role of the Code of Chivalry? To whom does it apply?
What is Malory trying to say, prove, show, in the story?
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archetype: prototype or original pattern from which copies are made; a recurring image, symbol, or motif in art, literature, culture, and religion that appeals to instinct, emotion, and creative inspiration
Archetypes help readers see fundamental truths.
In archetypal literature the characters may be types rather than individuals.
General features: archetypical literature may deal with one or more of the following an a variety of ways. (Many of these patterns apply to Arthurian literature.)
1.  the urge for an idealized past
2.  the woman as a destructive force for the hero or country (patriarchal view)
3.  values, concerns, yearnsings of the people
Hero features
4.  establishes and/or maintains order
5.  fights for the right
6.  ready for any sacrifice
7.  conscious of his/her calling
8.  emerges at critical time in society or history
9.  reconfirms basic values & hopes which may be in jeopardy
10.  experiences a perilous journey to fulfill a mission
11.  may die to atone for his sins or sins of others
12.  journey as a symbol of attaining maturity
After viewing "Star Wars," consider Arthurian Legend as an archetype for the video. Look at a variety of symbols, themes, and relationships, for example Excalibur and the light sabre.
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Daily Work Students will complete vocabulary work sheets, read sections in text, and complete reading guide work sheets.
Notes Students will take notes from presentations and discussions.
Group Work After the completion of each section, students will work in groups to select the key ideas from the readings.
Video Throughout the study of this unit, we will be watching several videos. Students will relate these videos to the text.
Tests Upon completion of the reading sections, students will take an extensive test over the text and background material.
Writing In a complete five (or more) paragraph essay develop one of the following topics. Prewrite, rought draft, computer draft for editing, and final draft should all be included. Be sure to support your ideas with specific exmples from the text and/or video.
"A" topic 1.  In the production of Star Wars, George Lucas drew heavily from Joseph Campbell's work in Arthurian Legend. Using Arthurian legend as the archetype discuss the relationships between Star Wars and the legend of Arthur.
"A" topic 2.  The author John Steinbeck compared the story of King Arthur and his knights to tales of the American West. What do you think Malory's work has in common with westerns, and how does it differ from them?  Use specific examples to support your ideas.
"B" topic 3.  Discuss three of the themes from Arthurian literature. Remember a theme is expressed in a complete sentence which makes a universal statement.
"B" topic 4.  Select one theme from Arthurian literature and discuss it thoroughly using specific references and examples.
"B" topic 5.  Discuss symbolism in Arthurian legend.
"A" topic 6.  Both Animal Farm and Arthurian legend deal with the idea of a utopia. Disregarding the fact that the characters in Animal Farm are animals, compare and contrast the vision of utopia from both stories.
  7.  Student generated topic, approved by teacher.



Code of Chivalry After completion of the reading, students, in groups, will design an Arthurian Legend Code of Chivalry.
  After constructing the Arthurian Code of Chivalry, students in groups will design a Code of Chivalry for Chinook High School.
Coat-of-Arms Shield You are going to design your own coat-of-arms for display on a shield. This shield will have four separate sections and represent you personally. One section should include some idea of your family background, another your hopes for the future, and a third section the values you hold important. Across the top of your shield you will place your own motto, which you will create. All sections of the shield will be school appropriate.

To complete your shield you will need some graphic or visual representations. These may be pictures from magazines or your own artistic creations. (Clip art is not appropriate for this assignment.) This may be done in the form of a collage.

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