Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights

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Reading and Study Guide: King Arthur
Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
The Arthurian Legend: Readers of both Malory and Steinbeck should address these questions.
1. Who was King Arthur and when/where did he live?
Who were his parents? What was their place in society?
What skills did Arthur inherit? What skills did he learn?
How did Arthur have to prove himself?
How did Arthur become king?
What are the implications of Arthur’s skills as a battlefield commander?

2. Is there historical evidence of Arthur’s existence? Explain.

Who was Geoffrey of Monmouth and what was his role in the Arthurian Legend?
3. Who was Guinevere? Was she an adulteress?
4. Did King Arthur have other lovers? Who and why?
5. Who was Merlin and what is his significance to King Arthur?
6. Who are the following and what is their relationship to Arthur?

Was he the greatest knight of all?


Did he see the Holy Grail?

7. What is the “Round Table”? Explain its significance.
8. What is “Excalibur” and why is it important?
9. What is the “Holy Grail” ?
10. What was the significance of “Camelot”?
11. What modern allusions are there to “Camelot”?
12. How big a part did the women in the Arthurian Legend play in the decisions and events that took place in Arthur’s reign?
13. Who are the following and what is their role in the Arthur Legend?
The Lady of the Lake?
Morgan le Fay?
14. What are the fundamentals of chivalry as portrayed through the Arthurian Legends, and why was this relevant social issue during the early Middle Ages?

Chivalry is considered one of the highest forms of social behavior. Why then did it develop in a time considered barbaric by modern standards?

15. How do the themes of the Arthurian Legends apply to the modern individual’s relationships with others and society in general?
16. Where do the ideals that are presented in the Arthurian Legends shape society today?
17: Modern Day Knights: The themes of liberality and unselfishness are present in the Arthurian Legend. Compare modern day knights that you may know of with those of the Arthurian Legend.
18. What does Arthur seem to stand for in the narrative?
19. What can be inferred about the society which lived in Arthur’s day?
20. What were the cultural attitudes toward physical violence, fighting and way in Arthur’s time?
21. What were the sexual mores of the time?
22. What were parent/child relationships of the time?
23. Explain the “barter system” and describe how it worked in medieval society.
24. Journal entry: How do you perceive your life as being different from that of someone in the Middle Ages in the same economic strata as you today?
25. Journal entry: Explain how transportation impacts your life. Using medieval modes of transportation, plot how you would travel from your hometown to the next largest city. Include the mode of travel, how you would get through water, protect yourself, and carry passengers/merchandise.

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