AD's English Literature : Analysis and Significance of Lord Tennyson’s ‘ Morte D' Arthur'

Analysis and Significance of Lord Tennyson’s ‘ Morte D' Arthur'



 Lord Tennyson’s ‘ Morte D' Arthur'  narrates a medieval story , but it has for leading psychological and allegorical significance . It tells is that obedience and discipline are necessary if the social fabric is to be maintained intact , that war and disovden result if there is faithlessness , treachery or disobedience . However , such social change should not cause despair , for change is the law of nature . “ old order" always changes giving place to the new.
The setting of the story is medieval , and the medieval atmosphere has been created with great art and skill Reference to the knights of the Round Tables and to towrnaments in which Arthur fought lance in hand , bring out the chivalry and heroism of the middle ages . The super-naturalism and mystery of these remote ages , their belief in magic and witchcraft , is seen is the magic sword of king Arthur , and the mystic hand which rises out of the lake at his death to take it away . As J.B Steane points out in the poem we have , “ all the medieval wardrobe and scenery ; the armed heels , the ‘ white samite , mysilie , wonderful , ‘ the brand Excalibur , etc".

But all this medieval paraphernalia constitutes only the background the drama which is enacted against this background is essentially Victorian and modern . The modern element in the poem is seen in the mental conflict that goes on within the mind of Sir Bedivere . He is tom within between his loyalty to his king and his desire to keep back the magnificent and precision word . It is only after a prolonged struggle that he is able to over come the temp tailor
The modern element in the poem is also seen in the symbolic and allegorical signification which he has imparted to the story. As one critic points out , king Arthur represents  “ the son at war with the senses “ king Arthur stands for the God like man , as a kind of dream a hope of what manhood might attain , should it reach its ideal . He expresses the aspersion of the spirit toward perfection in own modern life “ He symbolize the struggle of man toward a higher life “ . The mystic lady of the lake represents the church or religion and Excalibs represents spiritual
          The old order changeth , yielding place to new
          And God fulfib Himself is may ways .
          Last one good custom should compt the world “
          More things are wronght by prayer ,
         Than the world dream of .
Lord Tennyson
The poem illustrate  the truth changes is the law of nature , for without change even good customs car supt the word . Change is necessary for progress , for orderly evolution . The purity of the family is also necessary for human growth and progress . When there is sir and correction in the family discord shakes the social fabric and destruction are the results . Thus the illicit love of Guinevere and Lancelot and the treader  of modded result in the dissolution of the society of the knights of the Round Table and the death of Arthur
According to W. Bagehot , the poem presents the contrast and conflict between two types of character , the sensuous and the ascetic , and this conflict is ecnivernal ; it is as much modern and victrian as it is medieval . He writes , “ The contrast of character between king Arthur and sir Laucelot is one of those which exists in some degree in all ages , but which the existing circumstance of an licensed time necessarily tend to bring out and exaggerate . There is a presentation of two kinds of goodness which have long been conotrated , and always seen likely to be contrasted , in the world , the ascelic and the sensuous . The characteristic of the latter is to be sensitizers to everything in this world , tempted by every stimulus , exposed to every passion , the characteristic of the former is to be repelled from the ordinary pleasure of the world , to be above them , to feel a warning instinct against them . In the course of life the fate of the ascetic character is to be absorbed in a some what chill ideal , that of the sensuous character is to purchase a fascinating richness of earthly experience by a number of grave errors . We had some difficulty formerly in illustrating the distinction between the two characters at once clearly and expressively but we should had no such difficulty if Mr . Tennyson had published his new poem title earlier . The character of Arthur , absorbed in the ideal conception of a chivalrous monarchy , is the very type of the highst abstract or ascetic character ; that of Lancelot the great knight of many exploits and full – lipped enjoyment , whom Guinevere profess , is the type of the sensuous and sensitive .   
 
        Ardhendu De

Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert, 
      2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature
      3. Microsoft Students’ Encarta

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