“Turn, traitor untrew”: Altering Arthur and Mordred in the Alliterative Morte Arthure
Floyd, William David
Medieval Forum Vol.5 (2006)
The Alliterative Morte presents the reader with at least two questions in regard to characterization. One is the drastic change Arthur undergoes some halfway through, from prudent and virtuous king to cruel and reckless tyrant. The other involves the baffling change Mordred makes from humble and reluctant surrogate to murderous adulterer. Certain narrative gaps exist in the text wherein some explanation might otherwise justify these developments. However, we are offered some recourse to reconciling these factors. Because the poet saw it necessary to concentrate a good deal on the actions of these knights, it seems logical to consider their literary operation.