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Review of Chivalry by Neil Gaiman

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Review of Chivalry by Neil Gaiman Essay

Sometimes we find ourselves looking back at time remembering all the highs and lows we have been through and at the end just admiring the simple life that once occurred. Chivalry does the same thing by bringing us back in time but by adding some fantasy elements. The short story “Chivalry” is the book everyone should read, the second story in Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories “Smoke and Mirrors”. It was published in 1998 in the Unites states and a year later in the United Kingdom.

Chivalry is about an elder woman, Mrs. Whitaker, who has bought the Holy Grail from the Oxfam shop (a second-hand shop). She is visited three times by one of the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Galaad, who is on a quest to reclaim the Holy Grail. The author, Gaiman, goes to great lengths to describe Mrs. Whitakers life with the smallest details. She has a routine for the whole week and approaches everything with care. In her world, even the visits from Galaad the Knight, becomes mundane. It is clear how small details such as her nephew’s wife only likes modern things makes up the whole story. The story is all about details, not because it is key, but because it helps make up the environment we are in.

Galaad is an interesting character. He is filled with stereotypical nobility of a knight. He is principled; this we can see in different parts of the story. When he arrives for the first time, first and foremost he informs Mrs. Whitaker about the quest he is on, instead of just taking the Grail by force, which he could had done easily. After being refused the grail he looks for other grand things to replace it with. It is kind of funny, how he searches for these over the top things, when Mrs. Whitaker just wants something that looks nice on her mantelpiece, between the picture of her husband and a china basset hound. Maybe he wants to impress her with all these great things and find something that has the ability to replace the Grail, because it is visible how much she likes the Grail on the mantelpiece.

Through the story we witness how Mrs. Whitaker and Galaads relationship evolves in a non-romantic way, but more in to a mother-son relationship. Galaad is a loyal man and helps her with the chorus she assigns him to and does not complain even once. We can also see this relationship forming in the way Mrs. Whitaker treats Galaad; on page 38 she makes him a cup of tea, on page 40, she offers him something to drink, which is a quite normal thing to do in England, but she does not forget Grizzle, Galaad’s horse, who she fills a basin with water for. When they take off, she makes Galaad some sandwiches, which again shows this considerate, mother son relationship. But after all this hospitality she is still strict, maybe because she cares for him and wants him to learn; this is noticeable on page 46, where Mrs. Whitaker tells him to put away the apple of the Hesperides that would restore her youth and tells him to not offer things like that to old ladies.

The language is very descriptive, and the narrator is a third person narrator, also called an omniscient. In Chivalry the fantasy world and the real world overlap in a blurred co-existence, almost like in Snow White. Instead of witches, wands or supernatural powers, we are introduced to different elements from different mythologies and religions which are: The Holy Grail, Sword Balmung, The Philosophers Stone, Egg of Phoenix and Apples of the Hesperides. We can also see that this is a fantasy because of how many times Galaad visits. He visits her three times and three is a magic number alongside 7; the first time being at the end of page 37, the second time on page 40 and the third time on page 43. Galaad is a knight of the round table, which was a table used for meetings and it dates to the Arthurian legend, which dates back to the 12th century in Britain.

Based on all the information we get about the environment, such as the second-hand shop she visits every Thursday, named the Oxfam Shop and when she offers Galaad tea, which is a very common, English thing to do. We know that the story takes place in England. In addition to this the story mentions her and her husband meeting during the war, and how they had gone to London when the war had ended. To sum up, Mrs. Whitaker appreciates her life, and is happy with how things are and have been. Even when she was offered the apple of the Hesperides that would restore her youth in three bites, she turns it down, telling Galaad not to offer such gifts to old ladies. Probably because her husband passed away, she doesn’t want to go through life again without him, although the temptation of restored youth is great.

With all the details surrounding her life, it is clear that Galaad brought something different into her life, even though Neil Gaiman made it seem mundane and natural. Mrs. Whitaker did cry after Galaad left as written on page 47, “He hugged her, and she shooed him out of the kitchen, and out of the back door, and she shut the door behind him. She poured herself another cup of tea, and cried quietly into a Kleenex, while the sound of hoofbeats echoed down Hawthorne Crescent”. Maybe she is going to miss him visiting her and that is maybe the reason she told Galaad no, the first two times he visited. All in all, it is a nice sweet story, which makes you appreciate and acknowledge the small things in life.

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Review Of Chivalry By Neil Gaiman. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/review-of-chivalry-by-neil-gaiman/
“Review Of Chivalry By Neil Gaiman.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/review-of-chivalry-by-neil-gaiman/
Review Of Chivalry By Neil Gaiman. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/review-of-chivalry-by-neil-gaiman/> [Accessed 9 Feb. 2023].
Review Of Chivalry By Neil Gaiman [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 May 14 [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/review-of-chivalry-by-neil-gaiman/
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