Even though characters from Malory’s Le Morte Darthur try to escape their fate, they simply can’t. Every decision they make will eventually lead to them sealing their own fate. Looking at the scene where King Arthur has a dream about his own death, this becomes more clear. After the dream Gawayne tells Arthur that if he does not make a truce he and many of his knights will actually die. Arthur decides that Gawayne is right and chooses to make a truce with Mordred. It seems, however, that fate is already predetermined.
Even though Arthur and Mordred make a truce Arthur still dies after he draws his sword to kill a snake. The question one might ask here is whether the snake is a coincidence or an act of fate. And when King Arthur should depart, he warned al his host that, and they, see any sword drawn, “Look ye come on fiercely and slay that traiter Sir Mordred for I in no wise trust him”.
In like wise Sir Mordred warned his host that “And ye see any manner of sword drawn look that ye come on fiercely, and slay all that hath ever before you standeth, for in no wise I will trust for this treatise.
” There’s clearly no trust between the two parties involved and an enormous amount of tension. The second a snake appears Arthur draws his sword in reflex, and by doing so he seals his own fate. He may have decided not to go to war and to survive, but he can’t escape his destiny. The sneaky snake of fate comes in and starts the war anyway. According to Marilyn Corrie this is a clear example of free will at work. She claims that King Arthur could have prevented the war and his own death by not drawing his sword:
Before relating the episode involving the snake, Malory has described how Arthur has warned “all hys oste” that they should “com on fyersely” if they see “ony swerde drawyn. ” Mordred has told his army exactly the same thing—”for in no wyse,” he says, “I woll nat truste for thys tretyse” The knight who draws his sword to strike the snake, then, really should have known better than to do so. Arthur may not have been aware of the fact that Mordred told his men to attack the second a sword was drawn. “And when King Arthur should depart..
” It clearly states that Arthur was already back with his own men when both parties were told to attack at the smallest sign of someone breaking the truce. Aside from that, one might imagine that when confronted with a snake and in the possession of a sword it may have been a quick reflex of survival instinct to kill the snake, instead of waiting and hoping to not get bitten. Another great example of not being able to escape your own destiny is the death of Guinevere. After King Arthur finds out about her affair with Launcelot he cannot do but sentence her to death, Launcelot comes in just in time to rescue her.
Does that mean that they are safe? No, they die anyway. In this part of the story one can see the influences of Christian values. Adultery can be seen as a part of lust which is one of the seven deadly sins, she may have escaped her death sentence but she will nonetheless be punished for her deeds and die. Not only Christian values are of importance in the story of King Arthur. In the days of knights and kings loyalty was very important. Knights had to be trustworthy and endlessly loyal to their King and Queen.
In Morte Darthur this is a clear problem, since Launcelot needs to be true not only to his king, but also to his queen with whom he’s having an affair. Any kind of disloyalty is severely punished by death: Agravaine who’s disloyal to Launcelot and Guinevere dies right after he betrays them. Launcelot and Guinevere die of grief after they both have betrayed their king. Mordred dies after being so disloyal, that he not only tries to steal Arthur’s kingdom and his wife, he also kills Arthur. Everyone who has been untrue to their king in one way or another dies. It’s just a rough draft. Sorry.