The Flawless One

Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
“O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near.”

— Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Generally, I have to say that I am very fond of Sir Galahad. I would actually go as far as to say that he’s my favourite Knight of the Round Table—if one can call it that.

Galahad is, of course, often perceived as boring, too perfect and too pure, and as an example of an antiquated idea of Good and Evil. But I cannot agree with that.

On the contrary. Galahad is a wonderful example of the way medieval literature and lore often exceeds our expectations, and is at the same time the antithesis of the stereotype he is accused of: He emerged from the most unpleasant and unfortunate background and became one of the greatest forces of good. This concept is not as unusual as one might think—but it is often overlooked and rarely brought up in the discussion about Galahad.

The fact, that Galahad has been born out of wedlock, would have been enough for him to fall out of favour. The complicated, sad, and in many ways immoral circumstances of his conception would have been an even stronger base for a negative portrayal of his character.

To look down on children because of their own origin and existence, even punishing them, denying them their rights, or seeing them as impure, was and is sadly very common. To make just Galahad the symbol of Purity, Confidence, and Good, is remarkable and a sign, that his character is certainly not simplified.

The message that even mistakes and unhappy circumstances can lead to something wonderful, is beautiful and hopeful, as well as nuanced and a contrast to the prevalent idea of the stories of those times.