Neither Guinevere nor Ettarre
can eat when balked in desire, whether Guinevere at the feast where Lancelot's love for Elaine is bruited or Ettarre
after her love "veers" to Pelleas at the end and she "pines" away (l.
It is also a parodic reference to the "Tournament of Youth" in the Idyll intended to precede it in the final order, Pelleas and Ettarre. Altering Malory, who has the young Gareth set off in pursuit of the Red Knight (this presumably is why Tennyson paired this Idyll, in his imagination, with Gareth and Lynette), Tennyson instead focuses on Arthur: it is Arthur's job to tackle his self-confessed anti-type.
Where in Pelleas and Ettarre the King had made a favorite of Pelleas, and tenderly protected him, now he must confront and destroy him.
Following Pelleas' rejection of Ettarre
, meanwhile, Ettarre
's "ever-veering fancy" fixes itself perversely upon the man she once scorned and, "desiring him in vain," she, like Elaine, "waste[sj and pine[s]" away (Pelleas and Ettarre
paths of lilies and roses, and Ettarre
's arabesque garden, "Of
Kaiser concludes by juxtaposing Matthew Arnold's critique of games-mad aristocrats (play as competition) and its cure in the free play of the mind with Tennyson's Idylls of the King, in which homosocial competition in jousts and tourneys leads to civic cohesion while the subversive, imaginary, self-enabling play of desiring women like Vivien or Ettarre
Thus, Ettarre's prideful, promiscuous band, jabbering "confusedly" while "lost" in the wilderness and sharing "tinsell trappings" with their beasts, consummately enacts in its arrogance and "'mockery'" a familiar trope signifying an ethically repugnant mentality (Faerie Queene 1.2.13, PE 319).
The cruciform bower at Camelot, with its paths of lilies and roses, and Ettarre's arabesque garden, "Of roses white and red, and brambles mixt" (PE 413), are definitive.
The last line of the preceding idyll is Modred's thought that "The time is hard at hand" (Pelleas and Ettarre, l.
LT deals with two sets of events: (1) Tristram's victory at the Tournament of the Dead Innocence and transmittal of the prize jewels to Isolt of Britain, wife of King Mark of Cornwall, and (2) Arthur's fight against the Red Knight, whom Tennyson identified as Pelleas--thus connecting the new idyll to the one immediately preceding in the series, Pelleas and Ettarre, composed and published in 1869.
As per convention, Balin and Balan, The Coming of Arthur, Guinevere, Geraint and Enid, Gareth and Lynette, The Holy Grail, Lancelot and Elaine, The Last Tournament, The Marriage of Geraint, Merlin and Vivien, The Passing of Arthur, and Pelleas and Ettarre
are identified by the abbreviations BB, CA, G, GE, GL, HG, LE, LT, MG, MV, PA, PE, respectively.