Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Quest for the Holy Grail
Earlier this week we finished the second King Arthur book, on the quest for the Holy Grail. I discovered I was much mistaken in my understanding of it. (No doubt betraying despicable ignorance here.) I thought they were off trying to find the Holy Grail and then perhaps restore it to its rightful place or something. Instead, it turns out they all knew exactly where the Holy Grail was. The quest was rather to have the Holy Grail reveal itself to you and enter into the mysteries thereof. This involved proving one's self worthy of receiving those mysteries, by defending some fair maidens and resisting the temptations of others, for the most part. There are a lot of very weird episodes that are evidently demonic ruses to tempt the pure in heart.

I didn't care much for Galahad. He just has it all too easy. He's the best knight in all the world (so dubbed before he even goes out and does anything). So of course he gets the magic swords and the powerful shield that's been waiting around for hundreds of years and he just rides around, not even tempted by evil, and carries all before him until he alone is permitted to enter fully into the mysteries of the Holy Grail. Of course, then he dies, but he doesn't seem to mind.

I guess he's supposed to be more a symbol than a character. He's not a christ figure, because the innocent sacrificing is done by someone else (Percival's sister). Probably he's supposed to be the embodiment of chivalric ideals. Hence he becomes yet another example of why an ideal would be very unpleasant to live with.

I like Percival and Bors better. They have to struggle to get where they are.

1 comment:

the Joneses said...

I guess I tend to think of Galahad as an exemplar of God's sovereign grace. Before he even became a Knight of the Round Table, he had a seat picked out for him. Although of illegitimate birth (at least according to some versions), he was a shining example of purity. God chose him, and he became what he was chosen to be. His lot in life depended not on his merit, but God gave him the grace to live up to his calling. --DJ