Monday, February 25, 2008
One courtly love rule present in The Knight of the Cart was Lancelot’s unhampered passion for the very much-married Guinevere. Even as the lady has King Arthur for a husband, Lancelot did not deem her marriage an obstacle for his sensual yet gentlemanly love expression.
Another rule was Lancelot’s taking the risk of incurring the king’s ire, all for the love of Guinevere. Lancelot would not have gone to such dangerous proportions had it not been for “the power of love.”
Also, another rule was Lancelot’s willingness to prioritize Guinevere’s pleasure instead of his, believing that it was the right thing. If it pleased Guinevere to remain attached to the king (even as the lady beloved the knight), Lancelot would not wrest her away from his Lord, out of respect for him and love for her.
The rule that did not prevent Guinevere from being loved by both King Arthur and Lancelot was likewise present in the book. Being adorable and clever, Guinevere was loved by these men in their respective chivalrous ways.
Lastly, upon the “sight of his beloved” Guinevere, Lancelot would be considered excited because she was his love, after all. One could imagine Lancelot’s heart doing a crazy salsa inside his ribcage whenever the lady came into view.
Romance, with chivalric love as basis, exemplifies the abovementioned rules by showing that knights, instead of blindly following their heart’s basic desires, must follow a moral conduct in loving a lady in keeping with the gentlemanly qualities expected of them during the medieval period.
The Other Side of the Mirror is a movie about a middle-aged woman who agreed to marry a man believing in courtly love (i.e. no holding of hands, no sexual contact as in chivalric times). While their marriage setup was rather unconventional, the lady character went along with her would-be husband’s anticipated flow in order to marry someone decent and eventually, to escape blessed (or cursed) singleness.
The movie critiques the concept of courtly love by having the husband character cling to an anachronistic idea whereas chivalry harks back to the long-extinct Middle Ages. Common courtesy that dignifies humans and human relationships is all these medieval romanticism precipitated into, but a modern reconstruction of the knightly attitude in question is completely out of sync. To begin with, the gentleman of today is entirely different with the gentleman of yesterday. The lady must be nuts (as her husband is) to reach spinsterhood and yet enter a ruinous agreement that jeopardizes her chance to keep her and her husband’s generation alive.
When the movies closes with the lead characters giving in to the symbolic kiss, the audience realizes that their marriage based on courtly love cannot survive at these times and that the husband’s quixotic concept collapses along with said realization.