“The Truth About The Justice System In King Arthur

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“The Truth about the Justice System in King Arthur’s Court” In both Lanval and Wife of Bath’s Tale, the justice system of the Arthurian court is featured as a crucial part of the story. Chaucer, a male author having grown up in service to the crown, and Marie De France, who was a member of the court of Henry II, both were likely educated and inspired toward their observations of justice and injustice within their contemporary courts. As it clearly would have been dangerous to criticize their current courts, the authors likely used Arthur’s court, still regarded with some nostalgic mystique as an avenue for expression of their ideas related to justice within a royal court. Both authors, despite their different backgrounds, present King Arthur as passive concerning the decisions pertaining to justice. Within the trials featured in Lanval and Wife of Bath’s Tale, the queens use their power and position to influence the court’s decision both directly and indirectly. The common thread between the two trials is that a decision is rendered that offers a justice that is both authoritative and poetic. The Wife of Bath’s Tale, written by Chaucer, is about a lust-filled knight, who was sentenced to death as a direct consequence to his actions. In his case he had wronged a woman by raping her. This displays the knight’s hostility and disrespect for women. Through course of law, King Arthur condemned the knight to be beheaded. Traditionally rape was a crime in which justice would be served in the form of capital punishment. After the protests and sorrowful pleas of the queen and her ladies, Arthur puts the knight’s life in the hands of the queen. Differing from Wife of Bath’s Tale, Lanval, the story of a well-respected, but often envied knight is a victim of circumstance. The knight is described as one whose “worth is unrecognized by the Arthurian court” (pg.181 prologue).
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