“Men at most differ as Heaven and Earth, but women, worst and best, as Heaven and Hell. (Tenyson, Merlin and Viven)” |
In Idylls of the King, Tennyson deals with the failure of the marriage of Queen Guinevere and King Arthur, the discord between Enid and Geraint, poor Elaine’s unrequited love for Lancelot, and Viven’s seduction of Merlin. The poet carefully patterns the poem, setting up his female characters as a gallery of supposed feminine vices and virtues in order to make his didactic purpose absolutely explicit. Idylls of the King is from beginning to end a conscious and deliberate attempt to glamorize, justify and render attractive the subjection and suffering of women.