“The Passing of Arthur”A presentation by Elizabeth Cameron
Photo: Swedish National Heritage BoardSir Bedivere, the last of King Arthur’s loyal knights,tells the story of the passing of Arthur as an oldman, many years after the events take place.
The story opens with Bedivere overhearing Arthur moaning in his tent.Photo: Dusica86
Sir Gawain’s ghost appears to Arthur in a dream and tells him that he will die the next day and move on to an “isle of rest” (IV.35).Photo: Nationaal Archief
Bedivere tries his best to comfort the Kingand reminds him that Modred and an armyof traitors are advancing. Photo: National Library of Scotland
Arthur and Bedivere travel west to fight Modred’s army, but a great white mist covers everything, resulting in a great deal of confusion.Photo: Powerhouse Museum Collection
A strong northward wind blows the mist away Only King Arthur, Bedivere, and Modred remain alive after the horrific battle .Photo: National Library of Scotland
Arthur fights Modred and receives a mortal wound, but with one last swing of Excalibur he kills Modred.Photo: Powerhouse Museum Collection
Sir Bedivere carries the dying King to a chapel that overlooks the sea.Photo: National Library of Australia Commons
Arthur tellsBediverethat hemust throwExcaliburinto the sea. Bedivere fails to do so... twicePhoto: New York Public Library
On his third try, Bedivere manages to successfully throw Excalibur into the sea. A magical hand reaches out and grabs the sword .Photo: Nationaal Archief
Three queens sail in on a barge to take King Arthur away.Image is from “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and is c/o Polygram Video
Sir Bedivere watches from a cliff while the bargethat carries King Arthur sails off into the horizontowards Avalon.Photo: Powerhouse Museum Collections
“Tennyson’s profoundly personal quest forreunion with Hallam in In Memoriumbecomes, in Idylls of the King, a profoundlyimpersonal despair for the passing notonly of a hero, but of civilization itself”(Rosenberg 144).
“As to Arthur, you could not byany means make a poemnational to Englishmen. Whathave we to do with him?” – Samuel Taylor Choleric
“Victorian society was a fractious one torn betweenreligious orthodoxy and religious apostasy, socialreform, and social Darwinism. Scientificbreakthroughs were balanced by an ever-deepeningspiritual void that seemed to hound the mostadvanced intellects of the period” (Halloran 23).
“But I was first of all the kings who drew The knighthood-errant of this realm and all The realm together under me, their Head, In that fair Order of my Table Round, A glorious company, the flower of men, To serve as model for the mighty world, And be the fair beginning of time”(Guinevere, 457-463)
“Evolution is an idea with two faces. One is smiling and beckons us onward and upward to ever higher forms; the other face is death’s head, bones encased in stone, a struggle ending in extinction” (Rosenburg 149).Photo: Powerhouse Museum Collections
“...all my realm Reels back into the beast, and is no more” (Passing of Arthur 25-26).
“*Arthur+ is the embodiment of the divinewill...[he must] realize his highest calling inthis world through an attempt to makehumanity more aware of its full capability”(Staines).
“A theme – death and resurgence – [is]integral to Idylls of the King” (Lovelace, 25).
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new”
It would seem that Tennyson somewhat reconciles the fact that he depicts the complete destruction of Arthurian society with the suggestion that it can be rebuilt...do you think he suggests that there is any hope of salvaging asense of the self, in particular, the Victorian self?
What other relevantsimilarities or differencesmight we draw between“The Passing of Arthur”and In Memorium?