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Essay/Term paper: Excalibur

Essay, term paper, research paper:  College Term Papers

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"Guards, Knights, Squires; prepare for battle!" hollers one of the
kings noble knights. The rumbling thunder of horses trotting across the wooden
mote bridge echoes throughout the castle. Brave knights gallop their horses
into the foggy mist where swords and shields smash, the sounds of their armor
and their striking metals echo across the land they battle over. Blood oozes
from severed bodies as limbs are sliced off men like cheese. These barbaric and
berserk behaviors were the everyday duties of men during the Middle Ages.
Becoming a knight was the ideal manhood during this time. Every aspect of a
mans life revolved around their desire to one day serve their king as a knight.
The yearning aspiration to become a knight is portrayed in several ways in John
Boorman's movie, Excalibur. Arthur's responsibility as a squire (before he was
king), Lancelot's challenge of worthiness and Perceval's ambition illustrate the
urge that exists in men to serve their king as a knight.
The responsibilities of a squire serving a knight is one way in which a
man is eventually knighted. In the early opening scenes of the movie Excalibur,
young Arthur serves as a squire to his brother Kay. Squires were the duties of
young men who served their knights by preparing their armor and weaponry.
During some of the jousting scenes squires retrieve jousts and pass them over to
their knights, but never really assist in combat. Just from the experience and
duties as a squire, it is typical that a young squire may eventually become a
knight. However, in the movie during an Easter afternoon the knights are
jousting for the right to attempt to draw the sword from the stone, and young
Arthur forgets his brother's sword. So young Arthur runs back to the camp to
retrieve it and finds it has been stolen. He chases after the peasant thief
into the woods but the thief gets away. Arthur then turns and faces the sword
in the stone and unintentionally draws the sword from the stone and he becomes
king. If Arthur had not been the pre-chosen king, he probably would have grown
up as an ordinary squire and then eventually become knighted.
Later in the movie when Arthur is an admirable king, he and his knights
come across a bridge where they meet a knight by the name of Sir Lancelot of the
Lake. Lancelot and King Arthur's men joust to cross the bridge but Arthur's
knights fail. Although Lancelot is already a knight, he seeks a king worthy of
his skill to serve under. So King Arthur and Sir Lancelot joust each other; it
is evident that Lancelot was supposed to win the battle but Arthur's rage for
power overcomes him and he calls upon the magical power of Excalibur to win his
battle with Lancelot. Since the sword's power was meant to unite all men and
Arthur uses it to defeat Lancelot, the sword snaps in half like a chocolate bar.
Arthur tosses the broken sword into the lake. After Arthur recognizes what he
has done, the lady of the lake returns Excalibur to King Arthur in perfect
condition and Lancelot is revived. Arthur then makes Lancelot his champion and
Lancelot becomes Arthur's noblest knight.
While Lancelot is resting in the forest, a peasant comes across
Lancelot and attempts to steal Lancelot's sword. But Lancelot is too keen to
have his sword stolen by a peasant boy. The boy, Perceval wants to become a
knight and wants to follow Lancelot back to Camelot to be knighted. Lancelot
offers the boy upon the horse back to Camelot, but the boy wishes to run behind
Lancelot all the way to Camelot even though it is twenty days away. The
persistent boy who craves to become a knight follows behind Lancelot all the way
to Camelot, to prove his worthiness one might conclude. But he is not knighted
right away. Later on, Gawain accuses Lancelot for his betrayal to the Kings
wife. During the middle ages the process for settling disputes was not by any
form of court, but they choose to settle by jousting. Unfortunately, Lancelot
does not show up in time for the trial joust. Not one knight steps forward to
take Lancelot's place , so Perceval steps forward and chooses to champion the
queen. Therefore Arthur has no other choice but to knight Perceval in order for
him to joust Gawain. Just in the nick of time Lancelot shows up and Perceval is
relieved from any danger. Although jousting was extremely dangerous, Perceval
saw it as his only chance to become a knight and serve King Arthur.
During the Middle Ages it was important for men to have the honor to
serve their king. Honor, humility, faith, pride, purity and nobility were
Medieval virtues that men cherished. Men strived at the chance to become a
knight and be member of the kings aristocracy, the knights of the round table.


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