Sexism can be viewed as genderdiscrimination or prejudice. Sexism can be used to refer to the discriminationof an individual, whether male or female, due to his or her gender. Sexism isoften linked to gender roles and stereotyping, where one gender is regarded assuperior to the other. The Arthurian films, “Excalibur” and “Knights of theRound Table”, expressed through various characters, showed how roles in thecommunity were defined and how sexism was approved and supported.”Excalibur” was produced by John Boormanin 1981.
This Arthurian film showcased the story of the legendary King Arthur.Merlin, who was a sorcerer, retrieved the Excalibur for Uther Pendragon. TheExcalibur was retrieved from the Lady of the Lake. Uther fell in love withIgrayne, Cornwall’s wife. Merlin used the Charm of Making to make Uther looklike Cornwall, so that Uther would be able to seduce Igrayne. The seduction wasa success because Uther ended up impregnating Igrayne.
Later, Merlin takes thechild, Arthur, with him. Uther thrusts the Excalibur on a rock and Merlin declaresthat whoever retrieves the sword would become king. Years later, Arthurretrieves the sword from the stone and thus is crowned the king. Arthur used the powers of the Excalibur todefeat Lancelot but later regretted his actions because his actions caused theExcalibur to break.
Eventually, the Excalibur got fixed, which Arthur used tounify the land. Around that time, Arthur created the Round Table and marriedGuinevere. However, Guinevere and Lancelot fell in love with each other, which causedLancelot to distance himself from the Round Table. Lancelot then returned andbattled Gawain because Gawain intended to cause trouble for Lancelot and Guinevere with accusations that had to dowith their love for each other.
After the battle between Lancelot and Gawain, Lancelotheaded into the forest where Guinevere eventually found him. While in theforest, Lancelot and Guinevere had sexual intercourse and were then caught byArthur. Arthur jabbed the Excalibur between them. This provided Morgana withthe chance to use the Charm of Making to disguise herself as Guinevere to trickArthur. Arthur was fooled because he ended up making love with Morgana,thinking that she was Guinevere.
This false relationship led to Morgana givingbirth to a boy named Mordred. This incest caused the land to be cursed. To removethe curse, the Holy Grail needed to be found.
Perceval ended up getting his handson the Holy Grail because of a riddle that he successfully answered. Perceval gavethe Holy Grail to Arthur, which led to the removal of the curse that was placedon the land. Aside from that, Arthur and Guinevere worked things out, which ledGuinevere to hand back the Excalibur to Arthur. Later, during a battle againstMordred, before Lancelot died, he and Arthur had also worked things out. Eventually,Arthur killed Mordred with the Excalibur but got stabbed by Morded when doing so.Arthur’s last command before dying was to Perceval, whom he told to throw the Excalibur into the water. Perceval did as he was commanded.
The Lady of the Lake caught the Excalibur.”Knights of the Round Table” was producedby Pandro Berman in 1953. This Arthurian movie started by showcasing how Arthurand his half-sister, Morgan LeFay, struggled on who was the rightful heir totheir father’s throne. They visited a sorcerer known as Merlin to determineEngland’s rightful leader. Modred, Morgan’s knight, struggled to retrieve theExcalibur but Arthur retrieved it easily which meant that he would be crownedthe king. In his journey, Lancelot encountered Modred’s fighters who foughthim. He won by the help of Arthur who joined in the fight.
Arthur was chasedaway by the Council of Kings, but he attacked Modred’s men during the springand won. Arthur was crowned the King of England. After the battle, Lancelot andArthur disagreed regarding how to deal with their former enemies. Lancelotsaved a beautiful lady named Guinevere who had been kidnapped.
Arthur andLancelot re-affirmed their partnership.Morgan and Mordred hated Arthur. Guineverelearnt that Lancelot loved her and she told him to marry Elaine to avoidtrouble.
Lancelot proposed to Elaine. Percival, Elaine’s brother, visitedElaine and Lancelot and narrated to them a vision of the Holy Grail whichinvolved the cup from which Jesus drank from in the last supper. Lancelotreturned to Camelot as planned by Modred so that he would be framed due to hislove for Guinevere. One day, Guinevere became jealous after seeing Lancelotkiss another lady. She went to Lancelot’s house, unaware that Morgan and Modredare spying on her. Later, Lancelot and Guinevere were triedat the Round Table, and they were found guilty. Lancelot confessed his love forGuinevere and Arthur banished him from England.
Guinevere was confined. Modredclaimed that Arthur had shown mercy since instead of recommending a deathsentence upon Lancelot, he had banished him from the land. Modred turned allthe enemies of the king against him, and a battle broke between them. Modredand Arthur agreed to disband the Round Table as an agreement to end the war.However, war broke again after one of Author’s men drew his sword to kill a snake.Arthur was wounded, and he asked Lancelot to fulfill his wishes which includedkilling Modred, throwing the Excalibur into the river and informing Guinevereof Arthur’s forgiveness and love. Thetwo movies were similar in a large extent since they described the events thattook place during the reign of King Arthur. Sexism in the Arthurian movies waswell described in the two movies, in various instances and through variouscharacters (Ahem, 98).
First, the different roles of men and women were describedthrough the marriage between Arthur and Guinevere. In the early 1950s, themarriage partners had to balance between their public sphere which involvedlabor and work and the private sphere which involved their family matters. Menand women had to engage in different activities which embraced morals and whichguided their families. In the movie, “Knights of the Round Table,” by PandroBerman, Arthur was more concerned with his role as a King thus neglected hisfamily life.
Although Arthur loved Guinevere, he failed to engage in hisactivities as a man which included having more time with her, traveling andinvolving her in making important decisions. Due to his role as the King, Arthurexisted predominantly in the public sphere. His main focus was his kingdom thusneglected his family. Lancelot, although being a knight, was able to balancebetween his public life and personal life. He excelled as a fighter and wonvarious battles.
However, he spared some time and expressed his love forGuinevere. He also listened to Guinevere’s advice and married Elaine. Lancelotsaved Guinevere after she was kidnapped and was closer to him emotionally thanher husband the king. Thus, men in ancient England were expected to balancebetween their businesses or political life with their family lives for theirfamilies to thrive.The other aspect of sexism that is evidentin the two movies is the issues regarding the inheritance of property and mostimportantly, the Throne and power.
After a king died, someone had to be chosento inherit the throne. Two things were considered at the time according to themovies. First, the person had to retrieve the Excalibur and secondly, thatperson had to be a man, related to the previous king.
Since most kings at thetime were men, women felt neglected and discriminated. No matter how strong andintelligent a woman would be, she could not inherit the throne. In the movie,”Excalibur,” by John Boorman, Arthur was crowned the king since he was the sonof Uther and most importantly, he was a man. In the Movie, “Knights of theRound Table,” by Pandro Berman Arthur retrieves the Excalibur and is crownedthe king although his half-sister Morgan is equally a worthy heir. Morganbelieves that the throne was taken from her in unfairly after Merlin usedwitchcraft.The power to rule and guide the land wasbestowed on the crown. However, women were denied the right to inherit thecrown either through witchcraft or various laws and rules. Men are usuallystronger than women, and thus the law had it that the person who could retrievethe Excalibur from the rock would be crowned the queen (Ittmann, 82).
This lawwas simply put in place to ensure that women are locked out of the throne. In addition to that, the role of makingimportant decisions affecting the future of the land was bestowed on men. Thecouncil of elders that determined whether Arthur’s win over Morgan, waspredominantly made of men. The king, Arthur, in both movies was a man. Mostknights in the two movies, who led during the war, were men.
The sorcerer,Merlin, was a man. Perceval and Lancelot, who were entrusted with the Percevalto take it back to the river were men. This reflects a patriarchal societywhere men dominate all the important positions of power. In 1953, when “Knightsof the Round Table,” was produced by Pandro Berman, most people in politics andbusiness positions were usually men.
Men were known to be better in makingcrucial decisions regarding the kingdom. The only woman who played an importantrole was the Lady of the River who was the chief custodian of the Excaliburused to appoint a new king. Also, decisions regarding marriage weremade by men. For example, Arthur decided to marry Guinevere and Lancelotproposed to Elaine. It is clear that men made most of the crucial decisionswhile women were left out during such occasions. The major decisions made inthe society affected both men and women alike. For example, during war andconflict, men were killed while women were kidnapped. Thus, women ought to havebeen consulted before such decisions were made.
The major role of women as described bythe two movies was to bring forth children and engage in household activities.Guinevere, in both movies, took care of her husband. She maintained a goodimage of her family and marriage even when there were problems within hermarriage. Elaine also engaged in various household chores and took care of herhusband. As men engaged in hard jobs in politics and business, women stayed athome to engage in kitchen chores and cared for their children.
Like many societies in the 1950s, Englandsegregated women when considering people for vital jobs. Women were onlyallowed to engage in household jobs since they were considered too weak tohandle manual jobs. The activities carried out by women depended on theirstatus. The mistresses and servants helped those in the political classes. Thewives of those in power ensured that they supported their husbands emotionally.Some women felt that they were energetic and mature enough to engage in politicslike Morgan, but their efforts were rendered fruitless since they were notgiven a chance to compete favorably with men. The society had two hands, men, and women,but decided to only use one hand in national development. The results of thepatriarchal society are evident after the society experience fights andcalamities which would have been avoided if women were also involved in makingdecisions and engaging in activities that shaped their society and improvedtheir future lives.
Every person in the world wants a chanceto become successful. The society is supposed to create an opportunity forevery member to become successful regardless of their gender. However, menstood at a better chance to become successful than women, during the creation ofthe movie, “Knights of the Round Table,” by Pandro Berman in 1953. This isbecause men were thought to make decisions based on the reality, consequences,and evidence while women were known to make decisions according to theiremotions. Also, at the time, parents educated their sons and left theirdaughters uneducated (Gilbert, 872). The society also reserved better jobopportunities for men and less valuable jobs for women.In the two movies, women strived to gain ashare of power.
Since they were not appointed to leadership positions, the onlyway to rise to power was after being married by people in the loyal class. Inthe movie, “Excalibur,” by John Boorman Guinevere was in love with Lancelot butgets married to King Arthur. Although she wants to be with Lancelot since hecherished their love, Guinevere was forced to stick with the king so that shecould remain in the loyal family. Although she was highly ranked in thekingdom, her success was predominantly due to her marriage to the king, not dueto her great deeds. In the movie entitled, “Knights of the Round Table,” byPandro Berman, Percival brought forth Elaine, his sister, to Guinevere so thatshe could be made a lady-in-waiting.
The above illustrations show that women inthe society under consideration believed that marriage to a man from the loyalfamily was not due to love but an easy way to succeed in life. Thus, womenbelieved that it was very hard to gain power and leadership in their kingdom nomatter how hard they worked. For men, if a man fought well during battles, hewas almost sure that he would become a knight or an influential person in thekingdom. However, women had to be beautiful and seduce the men to be admittedinto the loyal family.
In addition to marriage, becoming pregnantwith a loyal man was an easy way to gain power. Women in the society seducedmen or used witchcraft to lure them into sleeping with them (Gilbert, 873). Inthe movie entitled, “Excalibur,” by John Boorman Morgan used witchcraft to takethe form of Guinevere and seduced Arthur. After Arthur slept with her, shebears a son named Mordred. In the movie, “Knights of the Round Table,” byPandro Berman, Elaine bears Lancelot’s a son.
It was not clear if Elaine lovedLancelot, but it was evident that bearing him a child would make give her achance to become successful and influential in the kingdom since Lancelot wasinfluential. As evidenced above, some women weredesperate to become pregnant with influential people. This showed how hard itwas for women to become popular in the land through excellence, commitment, andhard work. It was every woman’s wish to bear a child with a man she loves.
Thus, bearing a child just for social status showed how women were segregatedand disregarded in running the affairs of the kingdom.According to the movies, men wereobligated to carry out the wishes and desires of other men especially those whowere dying. In the ancient society, it was believed that the wishes of a dyingman to a fellow man who was regarded below them in the social class had to beimplemented.
Men respected the wishes of fellow men and implemented themregardless of how unrealistic they seemed. In the movie, “Excalibur,” by JohnBoorman, Perceval was told by King Arthur to throw the Excalibur into theriver. Although Perceval believed that it was unrealistic to throw such animportant sword into the river, he had to fulfill the wish of the dying man.Perceval threw the Excalibur into the river, and it was taken by the Lady ofthe River. In the movie entitled, “Knights of the Round Table,” by PandroBerman, Arthur informed Lancelot that he should throw the Excalibur into theriver. Although Arthur and Lancelot had divergent views at various instances inthe movie and even fought severally, Lancelot had to fulfill the wishes ofArthur (Ahem, 102).
Also, Arthur told Lancelot that he should inform Guineverethat he has forgiven her and that he loved her so much. Although Lancelot lovedGuinevere and so he would feel uncomfortable to inform Guinevere that Arthurloved her too, he had to fulfill the wishes of a dying man.The above examples show how men werewilling to stand and protect the interests of fellow men. It is said that womenare their enemies. Women in the movies could not unite and help each other.However, men were ready to fulfill the desires of fellow men regardless of theenmity that existed between them. Thus, men exhibited sexism by fulfillingevery desire of fellow men especially those who were almost dying.
Sexism in the ancient English society wasexhibited through various ways including marriages, roles and responsibilities,and inheritance among other ways. After two people were married, the man wasthe head of the family while the wife took care of the babies and householdchores. Men made important decisions while women only implemented thedecisions. This created a gender gap and women decided to engage in revolutionsto agitate for their rights.
Gender discrimination and sexism were alsoexperienced in the political processes. Most leaders were men and women weredenied access to the throne even when they were the rightful heirs. Sexism hasdivided nations in the ancient times and current world.
Men should allow womento engage in activities that change the society and not to restrict the women inthe boundaries of the kitchen. Women have the ability, strength, and ideas tochange and transform the world. Women should also respect men and avoid usingunderhand methods to gain power including using witchcraft or seducing men toimpregnate them.