Summary and Analysis Book 8: The Death of King Arthur: The Siege of Benwick


At Gawain's insistence, Arthur attacks Launcelot's lands, leaving England and Guinevere in Mordred's safekeeping. Gawain fights nobly, but Launcelot will not come against him because of their former love. Finally, when Gawain calls Launcelot a traitor, shaming him before his people, Launcelot is forced to defend his honor. Launcelot beats Gawain but refuses to kill him.

Gawain is carried back to Arthur's tents and lies there three weeks to let his wounds heal. As soon as he can sit on a horse he challenges Launcelot again, and again Launcelot is forced to fight. He again hacks Gawain almost to death but stops at the last moment, leaving his former friend howling and whining in impotent rage. Then comes news of Mordred's treason.