Idylls of the King
Idylls of the King is Tennyson’s effort to retell the legends about King Arthur, but in a way that espouses his belief in the historical cycle with its recurring appearance of the "Great Man." Tennyson adapted the Arthurian material to suit his purpose in order to reflect his own attitudes toward the needs of his age. From Malory, Tennyson borrows two major themes, including the decay of Camelot due to sin and the vain search for the Holy Grail. With these themes, Tennyson employs a fairytale quality that gives both a romantic tone and a pleasing quality. To Tennyson, the moral decay and corruption, though abated somewhat by Queen Victoria’s Christian example, and the abject materialism that replaced faith in God could not be ignored by Great Britain without a disastrous effect upon British society. Therefore, Idylls of the King is arguably an allegory, where Camelot represents not just Great Britain, but any nation that experiences a new order with youthful hopes, but that ends in utter confusion and death after it abandons its moral ideals.