Ideals and reality in The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights.
Date of Issue2013
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
In the closing scene of The Grapes of Wrath, Rose of Sharon transforms from a petulant young lady into a Virgin Mary-like figure. After giving birth to a stillborn baby, she changes and breastfeeds a starving man milk despite her loss. Steinbeck creates a powerful image, evoking the Christian ideal of selfless love under difficult circumstances. While Grapes of Wrath takes place in the twentieth century, this image is medieval as early medieval art has themes rooted in Christianity. Steinbeck's interest in the medieval period is not limited to just Christian imagery, but extended to all things Arthurian. Steinbeck sees Camelot as embodying many of the ideals throughout his fiction. This paper explores how the female characters in The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights do not actually adhere to this image entirely. They remain however, as guides to the men in Acts, fulfilling a more important role than usual. Steinbeck wrote the Acts as a modern interpretation of King Arthur. Rewriting the Arthurian Tales and even inserting whole paragraphs which are not in Malory, Steinbeck offers us insight into the thoughts of the characters, showing how thought translates into action. In particular, I will explore the role of the female characters in contributing to the book's rich psychological realism.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University