The Adultery Paradox

Love is a weird thing. Against all reason, it will make you do things you would never do in a million years. It may make you do something great, but at the other end, it may make you do something so immoral, you spend the rest of your life defending the actions you took. But they don’t have to always be so big and can be something as simple as following your heart that leads to a lifetime of regret. In William Morris’ “the Defence of Guenevere” the titular character made such a decision, but how valid is her reasoning for committing the act of adultery?

Early in the work, Guenevere makes an analogy to two clothes, and says “one of these clothes is heaven, and one is hell/ now choose one cloth for ever; which they be/ I will not tell you, you must somehow tell”(Damrosch 1668). Her crime is sleeping with Sir Lancelot while married to Arthur, and this is her reasoning for her adultery. She is saying that one man is god, and the other is bad, and there is no way to know which one will be which and that she will be stuck with her choice for the rest of her life.

While trying to further explain herself to her accusers, Guenevere gives a time frame for the start of her attraction to Sir Lancelot. She says, “it chanced upon a day that Lancelot came/ to dwell at Arthur’s court; at Christmas-time/ this happened”(Damrosch 1669). Her main argument to save herself is to say that she had to choose between to men at one moment, and would then choose to be with that man for ever. However, this implies that she chose Arthur, and then found an attraction to another man, in this case Lancelot, at a later date. Her tale isn’t one worthy of the third act of a romantic comedy in which she has to choose which of the two main characters she has to ride into the sunset with. This whole sequence of events is nothing but good old-fashioned adultery.

Love will make you do things you never thought you would do and maybe make you into a person you thought you’d never become. Guenevere made herself out to be the victim of making the wrong choice in love, but did nothing more than commit the act of adultery.



 Work Cited

Morris, William. “The Defence of Guenevere,” The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 4th ed. Damrosch, David, and Kevin J.H. Dettmar. New York: Pearson Education Inc., 2010. 1666-1675. Print.