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The “Lanval” Poem Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: May 7th, 2019

Judging from the prologue that precedes the poem, the reader realizes that the author of “Lanval” was of French origin. However, there is no part of the poem whatsoever that makes a revelation of more details about its author. Originally, the poem was written in French and was translated into various dialects, which include English. The purpose of this essay is to carry out a close reading on lines 17 to 26 of the poem in order to perform an analysis of the same.

“Wives and land he gave in fee to knights who served in his meiny, except for one that was Lanval” (17-19).The author narrates about the adventures of one of King Arthur’s most loyal knights, Lanval. Despite his loyalty, the king does not recognize and bypasses him as he shows his benevolence to his other knights.

As a result, Lanval mounts on his horse and sets of in solitude, away from the king’s castle in search of a peaceful moment. This step marks the beginning of his adventure. From the three lines above, the reader recognizes that Lanval” is both a dramatic and narrative poem that deals with the theme of adventure.

It is dramatic since it creates emotion and imagery in the mind of the reader when one realizes that Lanva got nothing from the king while the rest got a lot, which include wives and lands. The lines tell the story in an appealing and descriptive way, using third person narration.

“Nor did his men like him at all” is a phrase that portrays how the king’s men envied and disliked Lanval (20). This statement aims at creating the suspense and keeping the reader hooked in search for an explanation on why a powerful figure as a king and men who support him would hate on one man.

It beats logic that this is a situation of many against one. Probably, Lanval had something that the others lacked. However, it is difficult to figure out what it the knight had that the rest did not. This knowledge is achieved when we read the subsequent lines.

“They envied his handsomeness, his courage, prowess and largesse” (21-22). It is evident that Lanval was attractive, generous, competent and brave leading to a dislike by his colleagues. Resentment occurs when a person lacks another person’s superior achievement, possession, or quality and wishes that they had it or the other person experienced a lack of the same.

The narration depicts the use of rhymes to a large extent. Rhyme is the use of similar sound in poetry to put a point across. The beginning or ending of the words can sound the same. For example, “there were a few who made a show of friendship, but incase some blow (23-24). The author repeats a similar sound by utilizing the words show and blow at the end of the two sentences respectively.

The author makes use of perfect rhyme by stressing the vowel “o” as well as using identical sound in both words. In the poem, the writer uses rhyme to convey a message on how some of Lanval’s colleagues befriended him. This gesture is ironic considering the extreme dislike they have for him. Their friendship is dishonest and untrustworthy. The rhyme also injects a sense of humor, as we visualize the other knights suddenly changing their attitude towards Lanval when it suits them. They are opportunists.

The line “Of fortune were to cause him pain, they’d have no reason to complain” further confirms their false friendship to Lanval (25-26). The phrase demonstrates that, apart from taking advantage of him, the other knights would rejoice when problems occurred to him. In times of trouble, the other knights would leave him to face the challenges alone. This must have created a lonely and sad world for Lanval which eventually led to look for a way out, thus, creating a sense of adventure.

The key themes in lines 20-26 of the poem are resentment and jealousy. Although Lanval had friends at the palace, they disowned him at any opportune moment when he faced trouble. It appears that, as a ruler, the king plays a big part in influencing his subjects and especially those close to him. In addition, the other knights may be reacting to a command from the king or behaving that way to please their master.

The ten lines in the analysis of the poem “Lanval” relate to Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale.” Both works have a king as the chief authoritative figure. The kings are portrayed as influential and wealthy. They make major decisions regarding the knights. This includes whether or not to give anything to the knights.

In addition, both mention the presence of knights. However, in the “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” there was only one knight who as portrayed by the author, was not morally upright and proceeded to harass a maiden sexually. However, the poem “Lanval” has several knights; one Lanval is depicted as decent while the other knights are totally different. Instead of being the one on the wrong as the knight in the “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” Lanval is the one who is wronged in the poem “Lanval.”

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The “Lanval” Poem." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/lanval/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The “Lanval” Poem'. 7 May.

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