Decorative Initial Bedivere's second betrayal is far more serious than his earlier one. The first time he broke faith with Arthur, the sheer beauty of Excalibur left him confused, but when he breaks faith a second time after the King has explained the serious nature of his first defection, Bedivere now perverts his reason, looking to justify with intellect what had earlier been a natural temptation of the senses. To put the opposition in Dantesque (or Augustinian) terms: when he is first led astray, it is by a forgiveable abuse of natural appetite; but the second time he abuses his reason, a higher faculty. Thus "clouded with his own conceit" (278), Bedivere once more hides Excalibur and returns to Arthur who harshly accuses him of treason. Immediately comprehending that sense has conquered in the war with Bedivere's soul, Arthur yet shows his faith in the man and sends him back again.


[This lexia has been adapted from George P. Landow, "Closing the Frame: Having Faith and Keeping Faith in Tennyson's 'The Passing of Arthur.'" Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 56 (1974), 423 — 42.]

[Initial "B" based on A Comic Alphabet Designed, Etched, and Published by George Cruikshank. N. 23 Middleton Terrace. Pentonvillem 1836, where it appears for U and V: Very Unpleasant.]

Last modified 30 November 2004