The Epic Hero in "The Ill-Made Knight"

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Once and Future King


TOAFK - Epic Hero in "The Ill-Made Knight"

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Activity Overview


Epic Heroes Defined

It was the Greeks who first defined the protagonist known as an epic hero. These heroes of a tragedy must evoke in the audience a sense of heroism through legendary, awe-inspiring lore. An epic hero must be a man whose fortune is brought about by his own admired characteristics. Many of the famous Greek Epics, such as The Odyssey and The Iliad, contain these larger-than-life heroes and their deeds. In “The Ill-Made Knight”, Lancelot demonstrates these characteristics throughout his adventures and personal tests.


Lancelot as an Epic Hero

ATTRIBUTEDESCRIPTIONExample from The Once and Future King
Noble BirthUsually a King, Prince, Demi-God, or nobleman of some capacity. Lancelot is the son of French King Ban of Benwick, a friend and ally of King Arthur.
Superhuman CapabilitiesThe warrior has the potential for greatness based on their attributes. On the way to England to join Arthur’s Round Table, Lancelot is challenged by a knight dressed in black armor. He challenges young Lancelot to a tilting joust, which Lancelot easily wins. His strength and dexterity are unmatched to any other knight Arthur has seen.
Vast TravelerAn epic hero is known for making travels to exotic locations by choice or chance, usually to battle against evil. In order to get away from the temptation of Guenever, Lancelot agrees to go on many quests in which he encounters evil knights, a girl trapped in boiling water, and the Holy Grail.
Unmatched WarriorThis hero typically has a reputation for being a great warrior, even prior to the beginning of the story. Lancelot is so skilled in battle, that he is able to defeat men in armor with only a sword, and he manages to save Sir Bliant from attack by breaking free of his handcuffs from the cell where he was being kept.
Cultural Legend Before an Epic Hero can be universally known, he must first be a legend in his culture. Lancelot quickly becomes known as “The Best Knight in the World”, and it is this title that allows him to perform miracles.
HumilityThe hero performs great deeds for their own sake rather than glory. Lancelot is constantly at war with himself and believes that he is ill-made on the inside as well as on the outside, eventually going by the name, “Le Chevalier Mal Fet”, or “The Ill-Made Knight”. He never gloats, and feels constant guilt about his affair with Guenever behind Arthur’s back.
Battles Supernatural FoesThe opponents and obstacles the hero faces are usually supernatural beings.Lancelot defeats and thwarts many foes, many of whom have superhuman strength, but he also manages to thwart and escape from the fairie sorceress, Morgan le Fay, who tries to trap him and make him her lover.


Lesson Enhancement: Have students make a storyboard for each animal Arthur is turned into in “The Sword and the Stone”, and track the important characteristics of a good leader, and the importance of the lesson to his education!


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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows how Lancelot can be considered an epic hero.


  1. Identify events of the story or characteristics of Lancelot that fit into attributes of an epic hero.
  2. Illustrate examples for Noble Birth, Superhuman Capabilities, Vast Traveler, Unmatched Warrior, Cultural Legend, Humility, and Battles Supernatural Foes.
  3. Write a short description below each cell that specifically relates Lancelot as an epic hero.
  4. Save and submit the assignment.

Characteristics of an Epic Hero Template Worksheet

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