Le Morte d'Arthur

The Destructive Effects of Lovesickness in Le Morte d'Arthur College

Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d'Arthur presents an intent focus on the ill effects of anything not in accordance with Christian morality and teaching. Malory portrays these elements of his story negatively—showcasing how they alter the mind and deny characters the ability to properly function in a chivalric and penitent society. The most common of these drug-like aspects of Malory’s tale is love. Conflated with lust, love drives the conflict of the Arthurian narrative and both psychologically and physically damages those who fall prey to it. Mary Wack’s Lovesickness in the Middle Ages: The Viaticum and its Commentaries discusses how lovesickness acts as a disease that injures the soul, thus hindering spirituality. Although intensely pleasurable, love consumes the minds of those affected—rendering them unable to focus on God or reality. The adulterous relationship between Guenevere and Lancelot reveals the intense psychological and spiritual effects of lovesickness and how love removes the ability to exist in a penitent society.

Lovesickness in Le Morte d'Arthur is quite prevalent and afflicts many characters. The characters in Malory’s narrative who claim to love someone tend emphasize their sexual desires and exhibit more...

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