Le Morte d'Arthur Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Arthur

Arthur, king of Britain and head of the Round Table, a brave, just, and temperate ruler. He values the fellowship of his men above revenge for his queen’s infidelity, and he closes his eyes to her love for Launcelot until Mordred and Agravaine force him to act.

Queen Guenevere

Queen Guenevere (GWEHN-eh-vihr), a jealous, passionate woman whose fury drives her lover Launcelot mad. She repents after the king is betrayed by Mordred, and she dies in a convent.

Launcelot du Lake

Launcelot du Lake (LOHN-seh-lot dew layk), the greatest of all the knights except those who achieve the Grail quest. He is, himself, granted a vision of the Grail, but his love for the queen bars him from success in spite of his deep and sincere penitence.

Tristram

Tristram (TRIHS-truhm), the great Cornish knight who is the faithful and devoted lover of Isoud, the wife of his uncle, King Mark. Like Launcelot, he adheres firmly to the knightly code of honor and continues to fight for his country even after Mark has tried to have him murdered.

Isoud

Isoud (ih-SOHD), an Irish princess, married to King Mark for political reasons although she has loved Tristram from the time she cured him of a wound incurred while he jousted with her brother.

Mark

Mark, the cowardly, jealous king of Cornwall, who becomes increasingly bitter and vengeful toward Tristram.

Isoud la Blanche Mains

Isoud la Blanche Mains (blah[n]sh mahn), Tristram’s wife, princess of Brittany.

Gawain

Gawain (GAH-wihn), Arthur’s nephew. He stands for virtue and justice untempered by mercy in his uncle’s final contest with Launcelot, but he dishonors his fellowship earlier by beheading a lady and killing Lamorak de Galis when that knight was unarmed.

Sir Kay

Sir Kay, Arthur’s sardonic, mocking foster brother and seneschal.

Galahad

Galahad, Launcelot’s son, the best of the knights, who sits in the Siege Perilous and draws Balin’s sword from a great stone as a prelude to his successful Grail quest. He dies after a vision in which he receives the sacrament from St. Joseph of Arimathaea.

Percival

Percival and

Bors de Ganis

Bors de Ganis (bohrs deh GA-nihs), virtuous knights who accompany Galahad on the quest of the Grail. Bors alone returns to Arthur’s court to describe their visions.

Palamides

Palamides (pal-uh-MEE-deez), a valiant pagan knight, for many years Tristram’s deadly enemy and Isoud’s secret admirer. He is finally won over by his rival’s courage and honor and signifies his new friendship by being christened.

Lamorak de Galis

Lamorak de Galis (LAM-o-rak deh GA-lihs), a knight famous for his strength and valor, who is surpassed only by Launcelot and Tristram. He is killed by Gawain and his brothers for his affair with their mother.

Mordred

Mordred (MOHR-drehd), Arthur’s son by his sister, an ill-tempered, evil knight who eventually destroys the fellowship of the Round Table and his royal father.

Agravaine

Agravaine (AG-ruh-vayn) and

Gaheris

Gaheris (GAY-hur-ihs), Gawain’s brothers, participants in Mordred’s plots and in the slaying of their mother and Lamorak.

Gareth

Gareth (GAR-ihth), a tall, handsome young man who undertakes his first quest as “Beaumains,” the kitchen boy, but later reveals himself as the brother of Gawain.

Linet

Linet (lih-NEHT), the damsel whose quest Gareth fulfills. She mocks and criticizes the inexperienced young knight until after he has rescued her sister.

Liones

Liones (li-uh-NEHS), Linet’s sister, later Gareth’s bride.

Balin le Sauvage

Balin le Sauvage (BAY-lihn leh soh-VAHZH), a Northumbrian knight, fated by the acquisition of a magic sword to kill his beloved brother, Balan.

Dinadan

Dinadan (dihn-uh-DAN), Tristram’s witty, commonsense companion, who scorns love.

King Pelles

King Pelles (PEHL-eez), the Fisher King of the Grail legends at some points, although his identity is often unclear. He understands the mysteries of the Sangreal and arranges the conception of Galahad, the knight who is to achieve the quest and cure the wounded king.

Elaine

Elaine, Pelles’ daughter and Galahad’s mother, who loves Launcelot, in spite of his rejection of her.

Elaine le Blanc

Elaine le Blanc, the fair maid of Astolat, who perishes of love for Launcelot.

King Evelake

King Evelake (ehv-eh-LAYK), an ancient ruler, converted by St. Joseph of Arimathaea. He lives generations beyond his time to have the promised sight of the knight who will complete the Grail quest.

Merlin

Merlin, the magician whose spell allows King Uther Pendragon to enter Tintagil Castle in the shape of the rightful duke of Cornwall, husband of the lovely Igraine, Arthur’s mother. In return, Uther promises that the child thus conceived will be turned over to Merlin, to be reared under his charge.

Nimue

Nimue (nihm-oo-EE), the Lady of the Lake, Merlin’s mistress, who serves as a “dea ex machina” for several of the knights.

Morgan le Fay

Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s half sister, who continually devises evil for him and his knights.

Pellinore

Pellinore (PEHL-ih-nohr), a bold knight who singlemindedly pursues the Questing Beast.

Gouvernail

Gouvernail (guhv-ur-NAYL), Tristram’s tutor and constant companion.

Brangwaine

Brangwaine (BRANG-wayn), Isoud’s maid and confidante.

Ector de Maris

Ector de Maris (EHK-tor deh MAHR-ihs),

Lionel

Lionel,

Dodinas le Sauvage

Dodinas le Sauvage (doh-DEE-nas),

Sagramore

Sagramore (SAG-ruh-mohr),

Breunor le Noire

Breunor le Noire (BROO-nohr le nwahr), and

Safere

Safere (sa-FIHR), brave and honorable knights.

Meliogrance

Meliogrance (mee-lyoh-GRANS), a treacherous nobleman who kidnaps Guenevere, then accuses her of treason with Launcelot when she refuses to yield to him.

Le Morte d'Arthur Character Analysis

Arthur

Arthur is the child of Igrayne and Uther. Arthur was promised to Merlin as payment for his father's pact with the magician. After his birth,...

(The entire section is 275 words.)

Launcelot du Lake

Launcelot is the greatest of Arthur's knights, except for those who succeed in the Grail Quest. He gets his first real chance to distinguish...

(The entire section is 237 words.)

Merlin

Merlin is a master manipulator, who masters Arthur's conception and who, unseen, directs much of the action. As a great sorcerer, he is...

(The entire section is 235 words.)

Other Characters

Agravaine
Agravaine is one of Gawain and Gareth's brothers and is also a nephew of Arthur. Along with his brother, Gaheris,...

(The entire section is 2281 words.)