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Free Study Guide-The Once and Future King-T.H. White-Free Book Summary
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Chapter 34

Summary and Notes

Guenever takes a bath and thinks about Lancelot. Her ladies in waiting are happy because she is in a much better mood than she had been while Lancelot was gone; they assume they are sleeping together again, but they are not.

The author segues into a description of Guenever’s midlife personality. One myth he dispels is that she was some sort of man-eating vixen; White points out that there was never anyone for her but Arthur and Lancelot, and she loved both of these men. He calls her a “real” person, and what he means by this is that she was conflicted and contradictory. She defies categorization. The author continues his privileged view of the characters of this novel; he is fleshing them out for the reader. Instead of flat mythological heroes and heroines, he has made them relevant for the 20 th century - like us, in other words.


He notes that Guenever had a number of admirable traits, chiefly that she was courageous and generous. But her “central tragedy” as he calls it, is that she is childless, which must have been even more tragic in the Middle Ages when a premium was placed on a woman’s fertility. This also reinforces her jealousy of Elaine, who after only one night was able to bear Galahad for Lancelot.

Furthermore, as she ages, she becomes increasingly eccentric - the author implies that she is too large for her times - and thus unpopular with her subjects toward the end.

Guenever thinks about Lancelot in the bath, and knows in her heart that she will eventually win against God with him. She doesn’t take his devotion seriously and believes that she will eventually persevere.

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