Sexism can be viewed as gender discrimination orprejudice. Sexism can be used to refer to the discrimination of a particularperson, whether male or female due to his or her gender. Sexism is often linkedto gender roles and stereotyping where one gender is regarded as superior to the other. Two Arthurian films,”Excalibur” and “knights of the round table” described through variouscharacters how roles in the community were defined and how sexism was approvedand supported.
“Excalibur” was produced byJohn Boorman in 1981 and describe the story of the legendary King Arthur.Merlin, who is a sorcerer retrieves the Excalibur for Uther Pendragon. TheExcalibur is retrieved from the Lady ofthe Lake. Uther falls in love with Igrayne, Cornwall’s wife.
Merlin transformsUther into Cornwall’s likeness with the Charm of Making so that he could seduceher. Uther impregnates Igrayne, and later Merlin takes the child, Arthur withhim. Uther thrusts the Excalibur on a rock and declares that whoever retrievesthe sword would become king.
Years later, Arthur retrieves the sword from thestone and thus is crowned the king. Arthur uses the powers of theExcalibur to defeat Lancelot but later regret his actions. Arthur unified theland, created the roundtable and marriedGuinevere. Later, Guinevere falls in love with Lancelot and Lancelot decides torun away. Guinevere finds Lancelot in the forest, and they consummate theirrelationship. Arthur finds Lancelot and Guinevere and Lancelot sleepingtogether in the forest.
He thrusts the Excalibur between them. Morgana uses theCharm of Making to trap Arthur and Arthur made love with Morgana thinking thatshe was Guinevere. They gave birth to a child, Mordred and the land is cursed due to their incest. Percevalencounters a vision which helped him answer the riddle and thus gains the HolyGrail.
Arthur and Guinevere reconcile, and she hands him the Excalibur. Arthurand Lancelot later reconcile during a battle, and Lancelot dies with honor.Mordred stubs Arthur, but Arthur struggles and kills Mordred with theExcalibur. Arthur makes a wish to Perceval and tells him to through theExcalibur into the river and after Perceval throws it the Lady of the Lakecatches it. Arthur sails to the Isle of Avalon.
The movie, “Knights of theRound Table,” was produced by Pandro Berman in 1953. The movie starts bydescribing how Arthur and his half-sister Morgan LeFay struggle on who is therightful heir to their father’s throne. They visit a sorcerer known as Merlinto determine England’s rightful leader.
Modred, Morgan’s knight, struggles toretrieve the Excalibur but Arthur retrieves it easily which meant that he wouldbe crowned the king. In his journey,Lancelot encounters Modred’s fighters who fight him. He won by the help ofArthur who joins in the fight.
Arthur is chased away by the Council of Kings,but he attacks Modred’s men during spring and wins. Arthur is crowned the King of England. After thebattle, Lancelot and Arthur disagree regarding how to deal with their formerenemies. Lancelot saves a beautiful lady named Guinevere who had been kidnapped. Arthur and Lancelot re-affirmtheir partnership.Morgan and Mordred hateArthur. Guinevere learns that Lancelot loves her and she tells him to marryElaine to avoid trouble.
Lancelot proposes to Elaine. Percival, Elaine’sbrother, visits Elaine and Lancelot and narrates to them a vision of the HolyGrail which involved the cup from which Jesus drank from in the last supper.Lancelot returned to Camelot as planned by Modred so that he would be framed due to his love for Guinevere.
Oneday, Guinevere became jealous after seeing Lancelot kiss another lady. She goesto Lancelot’s house unaware that Morgan and Modred are spying on her. Lancelot and Guinevere are tried at the Round Table, and they arefound guilty. Lancelot confesses his love for Guinevere and Arthur banish himfrom England. Guinevere is confined. Modred claims that Arthur had shown mercysince instead of recommending a death sentence upon Lancelot, he had banishedhim from the land. Modred turned all the enemies of the king against him, and abattle broke between them.
Modred and Arthur agree to disband the Round Tableas an agreement to end the war. However, war broke again after one of Author’smen draw his sword to kill a snake. Arthur is wounded, and he asks Lancelot tofulfill his wishes which included killing Modred, throwing the Excalibur intothe river and informing Guinevere of Arthur’s forgiveness and love. The two movies are similar in a large extentsince they describe the events that took place during the reign of King Arthur.Sexism in the Arthurian movies is well describedin the two movies in various instances and through various characters (Ahem,98). First, the different roles of men and women are described through the marriage between Arthur and Guinevere.During that era in England, the marriage partners had to balance between theirpublic sphere which involved labor and work and the private sphere whichinvolved their family matters.
Men and women had to engage in differentactivities which embraced morals which guided their families. In the movie,Arthur is more concerned with his role as a King thus neglecting his familylife. Although Arthur loves Guinevere, he fails to engage in his activities asa man which included having more time with her, traveling and involving her inmaking important decisions. Due to his role as the King,Arthur existed predominantly in the public sphere. His main focus was hiskingdom thus neglecting his family. Lancelot, although being a knight, was ableto balance between his public life and personal life.
He excelled as a fighterand won various battles. However, he spared some time and expressed his lovefor Guinevere. He also listened to Guinevere’s advice and married Elaine.
Lancelot saved Guinevere after she was kidnapped and was closer to himemotionally than her husband the king. Thus, men in ancient England wereexpected to balance between their businesses or political life with theirfamily lives for their families to thrive.The other aspect of sexismthat is evident in the two movies is the issues regarding the inheritance ofproperty and most importantly, the Throne and power. After a king died, someonehad to be chosen to inherit the throne. Two things were considered at the time according to the movies. First, theperson had to retrieve the Excalibur and secondly, that person had to be a man,related to the previous king. Since most kings at the time were men, women feltneglected and discriminated. No matter how strong and intelligent a woman wouldbe, she could not inherit the throne.
In the movie, “Excalibur,” Arthur iscrowned the king since he is the son of Uther and most importantly, he was aman. In the Movie, “Knights of the Round Table,” Arthur retrieves the Excaliburand is crowned the king although his half-sister Morgan is equally a worthyheir. Morgan believes that the throne was taken from her in unfairly afterMerlin used witchcraft.The power to rule and guidethe land was bestowed on the crown.However, women were denied the right toinherit the crown either through witchcraft or various laws and rules. Men areusually stronger than women, and thus the law had it that the person who couldretrieve the Excalibur from the rock would becrowned the queen (Ittmann, 82). This law was simply put in place toensure that women are locked out of thethrone. In addition to that, the roleof making important decisions affecting the future of the land was bestowed on men.
The council of elders thatdetermined whether Arthur’s win over Morgan, was predominantly made of men. Theking, Arthur, in both movies was a man. Most knights in the two movies, who ledduring the war, were men. The sorcerer, Merlin, was a man. Perceval andLancelot, who were entrusted with the Perceval to take it back to the riverwere men. This reflects a patriarchalsociety where men dominate all the important positions of power. In ancientEngland, most people in politics and business positions were usually men. Menwere known to be better in making crucial decisions regarding the kingdom.
Theonly woman who plays an important role in the Lady of the River who is thechief custodian of the Excalibur used to appoint a new king. Also, decisions regardingmarriage were made by men. For example, Arthur decided to marry Guinevere andLancelot proposes to Elaine.
It is clear that men make most of the crucialdecisions while women are left out during such occasions. The major decisionsmade in the society affected both men and women alike. For example, during warand conflict, men were killed while women werekidnapped.
Thus, women ought to have beenconsulted before such decisions were made.The major role of women asdescribed by the two movies is to bring forth children and engage in householdactivities. Guinevere, in both movies, take care of her husband.
She maintainsa good image of her family and marriage even when there are problems within hermarriage. Elaine also engages in various household chores and takes care of herhusband. As men engage in hard jobs in politics and business, women stayed athome to engage in kitchen chores and care for their children. Like many societies at thetime, England segregated women when considering people for vital jobs. Womenwere allowed 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 inpolitics like Morgan, but their efforts wererendered fruitless since they were notgiven a chance to compete favorably with men. The society had two hands,men, and women, but decided only to use one handin national development. The results of the patriarchal society areevident after the society experience fights and calamities which would have been avoided if women were also involved inmaking decisions and engaging in activities that shaped their society andimproved their future lives.Every person in the worldwants a chance to become successful.
The society is supposed to create anopportunity for every member to become successful regardless of their gender.However, men stand at a better chance to become successful than women. This is because men are thought to makedecisions based on the reality, consequences, and evidence while women areknown to make decisions according to their emotions. Also, in the past, parentseducated their sons and left their daughters uneducated (Gilbert, 872). Thesociety also reserves better job opportunities for men and less valuable jobsfor women.
In the two movies, womenstrive to gain a share of power. Since they arenot appointed to leadership positions, the only way to rise to power isafter being married by people in the loyal class. In the movie, “Excalibur,”Guinevere is in love with Lancelot but gets married to King Arthur.
Althoughshe wants to be with Lancelot since he cherishes their love, Guinevere is forced to stick with the king so that shecan remain in the loyal family. Although she ishighly ranked in the kingdom, her success is predominantly due to hermarriage to the king not due to her great deeds. In the movie entitled,”Knights of the Round Table,” Percival brings forth Elaine, his sister, toGuinevere so that she can be made alady-in-waiting. The above illustrations showthat women in the society under consideration believed that marriage to a manfrom the loyal family was not due to love but an easy way to succeed in life.
Thus, women believed that it was very hard to gain power and leadership intheir kingdom no matter how hard they worked. For men, if a man fought wellduring battles, he was almost sure that he would become a knight or aninfluential person in the kingdom. However, women had to be beautiful andseduce the men to be admitted into theloyal family. In addition to marriage,becoming pregnant with a loyal man was an easy way to gain power. Women in thesociety seduced men or used witchcraft to lure them into sleeping with them(Gilbert, 873). In the movie entitled, “Excalibur,” Morgan used witchcraft totake the form of Guinevere and seduced Arthur. After Arthur slept with her, shebears a son named Mordred. In the movie, “Knights of the Round Table “Elainebears Lancelot’s a son.
It is not clear if Elaine loved Lancelot, but it isevident that bearing him a child would make give her a chance to becomesuccessful and influential in the kingdom since Lancelot was influential. As evidenced above, some womenwere desperate to become pregnant with influential people. This shows how hard it was or women to becomepopular in the land through excellence, commitment, and hard work. It is everywoman’s wish to bear a child with a man she loves. Thus, bearing a child justfor social status shows how women were segregated and disregarded in runningthe affairs of the kingdom.According to the movies, menwere obligated to carry out the wishes and desires of other men especiallythose who were dying.
In the ancient society, it was believed that the wishes of a dying man to a fellow man who is regarded below them in the social class hadto be implemented. Men respected thewishes of fellow men and implemented them regardless of how unrealistic theyseemed. In the movie, “Excalibur,”Perceval is told by King Arthur to throw the Excalibur into the river.
AlthoughPerceval believed that it was unrealistic to throw such an important sword intothe river, he had to fulfill the wish of the dying man. Perceval threw theExcalibur into the river, and it is takenby the Lady of the River. In the movie entitled, “Knights of the Round Table,”Arthur informs Lancelot that he should throw the Excalibur into the river.Although Arthur and Lancelot had divergent views at various instances in themovie and even fought severally, Lancelot had to fulfill the wishes of Arthur(Ahem, 102). Also, Arthur tells Lancelot that he should inform Guinevere thathe has forgiven her and that he loved her so much. Although Lancelot lovedGuinevere and so he would feel uncomfortable to inform Guinevere that Arthur lovedher too, he had to fulfill the wishes of a dying man.
The above examples show howmen were willing to stand and protect the interests of fellow men. It is said that women are their enemies. Women inthe movies could not unite and help each other. However, men were ready tofulfill the desires of fellow men regardless of the enmity that existed betweenthem. Thus, men exhibited sexism by fulfilling every desire of fellow menespecially those who were almost dying. Sexism in the ancient Englishsociety was exhibited through variousways including marriages, roles and responsibilities, and inheritance amongother ways. After two people were married, the man was the head of the familywhile the wife took care of the babies and household chores. Men made importantdecisions while women only implemented the decisions.
This created a gender gap and women decided to engage inrevolutions to agitate for their rights. Gender discrimination andsexism were also experienced in thepolitical processes. Most leaders were men and women were denied access to thethrone even when they were the rightful heirs. Sexism has divided nations inthe ancient times and current world. Men should allow women to engage inactivities that change the society and not to restrict the women in theboundaries 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.