Essay

Analysis of the Concept of the Perfect Knight in Neil Gaiman’s “chivalry”, Patricia A. McKillip’s “lady of the Skulls” and J.R.R. Tolkien’s “the King of the Golden Hall”

In the chivalric tales “Chivalry”, written by Neil Gaiman, “Lady of the Skulls”, written by Patricia A. McKillip and “The King of the Golden Hall”, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, the authors demonstrate that an ideal knight is courteous, diligent and is the servant of the people.

To begin with, the authors prove that an ideal knight is courteous. For example, in “Chivalry”, Galaad is very courteous towards Mrs. Whitaker. He even accepts to help her with her chores: “She [shows] him up to the boxroom in the top of the house. He [moves] all the old suitcases for her” (Gaiman 42). By doing so, Galaad gets closer to the old woman who finally accepts to trade the Holy Grail for some of the Knight’s possessions. Ultimately, if he had not been courteous, he would not have been able to finish his quest. Furthermore, Ran from “The Lady of the Skulls” gains an important hint to complete his quest by being courteous and talking with the lady. She tells him: “If I took one thing away with me, it would not be a sword […] it would be whatever is alive” (McKillip 144). Without this key information, Ran would not have been able to find the most precious thing in the tower and bring back riches to Cartelaine, the poor country where he is from. Moreover, Gandalf from “The King of the Golden Hall”, even though he is not an actual knight, but rather a wizard who shares the same virtues as knights, also proves that the ideal knight must be courteous when he persuades the guard to let him inside the castle with his staff. The guard only accepts to do so because he believes that Gandalf and his fellows are worthy of his trust and have no evil purposes (Tolkien 534). Gandalf is then able to rid King Theoden of the spell put on him by using his staff. Ultimately, the knights are able to accomplish their quests partly because of their courtesy.

To continue, the authors prove that an ideal knight is diligent and works hard to accomplish his quest. Galaad does not abandon the first time Mrs. Whitaker refuses to give him the Holy Grail. Instead, he comes back with precious gifts to offer her. He says to her: “‘And that’s all I have brought for you […] they weren’t easy to get, either’” (Gaiman 44). Mrs. Whitaker finally accepts to trade him the Holy Grail in exchange for the Philosopher’s Stone and the Egg of the Phoenix which are difficult to get. Galaad is able to accomplish his quest because he is diligent and does not give up even though the lady refuses to give him the Grail on multiple occasions.Furthermore, Ran shows diligence when he continues to search for the most precious thing the tower has to offer even though one of the knights that came in with him dies. He also does not stop talking to Amaranth in order to get information even though she tells him that she does not know the answer to the riddle (McKillip 141-142). Because he is diligent and does not give up, he eventually learns an important information that leads him tothe successful completion of his quest and leaves the tower alive with Amaranth and riches to bring back to his city. Moreover, Gandalf also proves he is diligent to the King. After telling Gandalf and his companion that they had ridden for a long time and that they had not eaten anything or slept in a while, Theoden says: “‘A guest-house shall be made ready: there you shall sleep, when you have eaten’” (Tolkien 541). Gandalf and their companions refuse to take time to eat and sleep because they wish to defeat their enemy as soon as possible. The ideal knight works hard to achieve his goals and does not give up until his quest is accomplished.

In addition, the authors demonstrate that the ideal knight is a servant of the people and that his purpose.