The quest for the holy: the religious perspective of Sir Thomas Malory's Le morte darthur

Moffett, Paul (2017) The quest for the holy: the religious perspective of Sir Thomas Malory's Le morte darthur. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis explores the religious content and context of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur. There has long been a heated critical debate about Malory’s interest in religion, and this thesis demonstrates that Le Morte Darthur engages frequently and seriously with religion in general and with a specific manifestation of religion in particular: that is, fifteenth-century lay chivalric Christianity. This thesis is divided into an introduction, five chapters, and a conclusion. The introduction provides a historical and critical context for the discussion that follows. The first chapter explains the text’s engagement with fifteenth-century lay chivalric Christianity in particular, and demonstrates that Le Morte Darthur gets more religious as it proceeds. Chapter 2 explores the role of holiness in the character development of Lancelot and Galahad, and argues that the father and son represent two alternative models of holiness. The third chapter demonstrates the thematic importance of penance throughout Le Morte Darthur, with particular attention paid to Guinevere, Lancelot, Arthur, and Gawain. The fourth chapter focuses on the Grail Quest, and demonstrates that Malory chose to use a symbolic and religious source for his retelling of the Grail story, despite having other options. Chapter 5 uses sections of Le Morte Darthur with no known source to argue that Malory’s religious preoccupation is his own, and not inadvertently imported from his sources. The conclusion makes a case for the significance of the study. “The Quest for the Holy: The Religious Perspective of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur” offers a critical analysis of one of late medieval literature’s central text, addressing deeply concerns that have more frequently been merely alluded to. More broadly, it joins critical discussions about conflicting loyalties, individualism and collectivism, ideology, politics, theology, and political theology.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 12597
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 275-294).
Keywords: Malory, King Arthur, Christianity
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: May 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Malory, Thomas, Sir, active 15th century -- Morte d'Arthur; Christianity and literature -- England; Arthurian romances -- History and criticism

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