I became interested in Arthurian legends after I was drawn to read up on the story of Gawain and the Green Knight a few years back. In this tale, Gawain, a gallant knight is tricked by a sorceress and mocked by the Green Giant ending up feeling ashamed of some deceitful escapades. One analysis on the moral of the story is that he doesn’t respect the natural world, he doesn’t realize he is part of the natural world, rather he feels he is above it and must therefore disown that part of himself. Gawain never did fulfil his quest (of all Arthurian Knights) to realize the holy grail.
And then there’s Lancelot, the true love of Guenivere, some say, who is his inspiration to continue on his quest for the grail, yet along the way he is regularly distracted by the beautiful damsels that catch his eye. His love for Guenivere correcting his path, in getting him back on track for his quest, once he extracts himself from his most recent meanderings. So Lancelot doesn’t hide away from his more animal instincts, but they still get the better of him. Guenivere was said by some to become selfish and cruel when Lancelot came into her life. She said that if she were to create God, he would look just like Lancelot, perhaps she was objectifying him somewhat.
And then there was Arthur, true to his Kingship, he was able to extract the mighty Excalibur because he remembered the responsibility that comes with great power, and that he was to wield this power for the over-all benefit of Camelot, not for selfish gains. Arthur and Guenivere had successful rule of their domain and yet Arthur claims that Guenivere is one of his favourite ‘possessions’... hmmm, again quite a dose of ownership and objectification. Lancelot and Guenivere betrayed Arthur which resulted in the downfall of Camelot and they all ended up dead… and maybe that’s why we find ourselves in the crazy mixed up world we do today.
As with all archetypes, perhaps they represent part of ourselves. I definitely got to know a Gawain quite well, and perhaps recently ran into a Lancelot. Yes I have likely fancied myself as a sorceress and an eye-catching damsel on occasion… Yet, as I, as we all, remember the responsibility that comes with ‘power’ and ever endeavor to leave selfish notions in the past, it could be that Arthur comes into view upon the horizon… he did say he would return when we needed him most. I am the eternal optimist, haven’t we evolved as a human race since the time of Camelot? Or are we cycling on endless wheels of time… how do we ensure paradise is re-instated this time around, rather than the fall. Maybe all the characters these days, could just 'fess up on their faults and have a big fun party together without any shame. :-D