Le Morte D'Arthur: The Seven Deadly Sins


The seven deadly sins are spoken of often and frequently in every day life for that is what they are affected with. All of these sins can intertwine to form a domino effect of actions and reactions that link to all of the sins. Once one is committed, it becomes easier to fall into the others for they are all interlinked. This is prevalent in Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur as proven by the acts committed by the various characters throughout the book.

When looked at as separate words, the definition of the phrase, the "seven deadly sins", becomes clearer. Starting with "seven", being the chosen number of dealings, following with "deadly", meaning fatal, proceeding to die, or to become deceased and finally "sins", wrongful doings according to religiosity. So from the breakdown of the specific words it can be said that the expression, the seven deadly sins, means that there are seven, not two, not four, but seven wrongful doings that upon execution become fatal.

Now that the phrase has been fully explained and hopefully understood, it is time to move on to the actual seven sins that are deadly. The first of the seven sins is greed, being the insatiate longing for or the keenly intense desire for something being of material value or not, that is usually not thought of to be achieved in an moral way. The second sin is gluttony, meaning the overindulgence in anything, great appetite for anything, such as food for example. The third sin is wrath, meaning extreme anger or feeling of vengeance. The forth sin is sloth, being severe laziness or lack of enthusiasm to do anything. The fifth sin is envy, meaning the coveting of anything that is not rightfully owned by the coveter, grudging contemplation of more fortunate people and of their advantages. The sixth sin is lechery, being sexual lust or lust for anything, to live in gluttony. The seventh, and last of the sins is pride, being the overweening opinion of one's own qualities, merits, often personified as arrogant. All of these are classified as sins because they are morally wrong and can make a person unpure.

Le Morte D'Arthur is a tale of many knights and endless battles. In this legend, many of the seven deadly sins surpassed and this is what will be looked at.

With the first of the sins being greed, it is evident that many of the knights committed this sin. These knights were greedy for power, which made them not pure of heart and therefore as a result, could not achieve the Holy Grail.

Sir, you are one of the most gifted of men, and one of the most sinful. God, in his love for you, has granted you these gifts; but you, in the hardness of your heart, have not returned that love. You have not used those gifts in the furtherance of his glory; no, you have used them only in the furtherance of your sin. Therefore you are harder than stone: neither water nor fire can soften your sin, nor may the Holy Ghost enter you.

In this quote Launcelot is bitter for he never thanked God for his many gifts. He was greedy to be the bravest knight in all the land and in doing this only received and greedily kept all of his gifts, never realizing that someone had given them to him.

Another apparent aspect of greed was displayed in the character Mordred who was greedy to have power over the people, to be king and ruler of all.

During the absence of King Arthur from Britain, Sir Mordred, already vested with sovereign powers, had decided to usurp the throne. Accordingly, he had false letters written ? announcing the death of King Arthur in battle ? and delivered to himself. Then, calling a parliament, he ordered the letters to be read and persuaded the nobility to elect him king. The coronation took place at Canterbury and was celebrated with a fifteen-day feast.

Mordred seized the throne when Arthur was absent and then lied to obtain this tribute "honourably". He is greedy for the power and he lets it get the better of him.

The second sin is gluttony, displayed in Launcelot when he overindulges in Gwynevere. He takes is obsession with her to far until it becomes this. "However, their love did not pass unnoticed at the