The actions of King Arthur and his acclaimed Knights of the Round Table satirize the prowess and courtliness that is supposedly inherent in a knight’s action. Disheartened by their defeat, the ensuing events that follow this conflict are those of the individual knights as each go on their own way to find the Holy Grail. The vigorous travels of Sir Galahad the Pure take him to the deceivingly named Castle Anthrax, where he is unknowingly cast among “eight score young blondes and brunettes, all between sixteen and nineteen-and-a-half, cut off in this castle with no one to protect us”, as his guide Zoot describes.Although most men would gladly oblige, Galahad is initially unwilling to submit himself to the temptations of the sexually deprived women and even declares that he has sworn to chastity. However, the seductions eventually prove to have their desired affect and would have succeeded if Lancelot had not come in the last moment to rescue Galahad from his “great peril”. Michael Palin’s portrayal of Galahad’s ridicules the sinless nature and purity that has been historically associated with his chaste character.
The tale of Sir Lancelot the Brave is unlike that of any knight who has rescued a damsel in distress. The most notable reason for this is that the damsel is not a female in the throes of trouble, but rather a spoiled and high pitched prince who would prefer to sing than marry his chosen bride, Princess Lucky. Lancelot is persuaded to liberate the supposed damsel after an arrow pierces the chest of his squire and he reads the message attached to it which states “To whoever finds this note: I have been imprisoned by my father, who wishes me to marry against my will.Please, please, please come and rescue me. I am in the Tall Tower of Swamp Castle. ” This reasonably misleading note is the catalyst for Lancelot’s assault on Swap Castle, during which he slays whoever stands in his way, including the bride’s father and eight wedding guests. Upon discovering the identity of the “damsel”, Herbert and being introduced to his father, Lancelot subdues his sudden wrath.
Instead of being hailed as the traditional heroic knight who brings salvation, John Cleeses’ portrait of Lancelot is meant to evoke the opposite interpretation in his farce performance.The chronicled adventures of King Arthur of Camelot and his Knights of the Round Table, especially in their pursuit for the Holy Grail will endure as long as their names are remembered. Their existence will be debated as long as there is air to breathe and it is ironically fitting that the knights of Monty Python never achieve their goal of attaining the Holy Grail. If King Arthur and his knights are meant to embody the chivalry and gallantry inherent in knighthood, then their ridiculous retinue can scarcely be said to exhibit these traits.The Monty Python company manage to amusingly satirize our traditional perceptions of knights rescuing damsels in distress, bedding consenting ladies and bravery in combat in almost every aspect. Jones and Gilliam successfully parody Medieval England to such an extent that the Bubonic Plague, persecution of women thought to be witches and repression of the impoverished, can only be regarded as intensely amusing.