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Idylls of the King
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Tennyson’s Idylls > Tennyson's Guinevere

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message 1: by Lia (new) - added it

Lia | 522 comments Mod
An interesting remark on the gender trouble of Tennyson's Guinevere

Edinburgh Magazine observed, in fact, that in"Guinevere" Tennyson reversed the male and female roles of Dante and his Beatrice: "Here it is the Man, not the Woman, whose eyes are fixed on Heaven, and whose face has caught a radiance from above; the Woman, not the Man, who is to rise from the dust and gain wings wherewith to soar upward through the blessed attraction of the Form that stands beside her" (November 18 59, 626).

I LOL'd. Did not find that pearl-clutching worthy.

message 2: by Lia (new) - added it

Lia | 522 comments Mod
. In the Morte the Queen is judged in terms of her adherence to the doctrine of courtly love: "whyle she lyved she was a trew lover, and therfor she had a good ende"

Tennyson takes the opposite stance: since Guinevere repents deeply for having been Lancelot's mistress and does her penance at length while living in the nunnery, she finds peace. There is, as well, the pleasant possibility offered by Tennyson's Arthur that Guinevere may reclaim her husband—if she so desires—in heaven, after her soul has been cleansed. It would seem that the opportunity to make exactly this decision on her own was all Guinevere truly desired from the outset.
Camelot in the Nineteenth Century: Arthurian Characters in the Poems of Tennyson, Arnold, Morris, and Swinburne

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