Mists Of Avalon Character Analysis

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In Mists of Avalon, Morgaine, a Pagan priestess, mocks witchcraft paranoia by saying “And as for sorcery-- well, there are ignorant priests and ignorant people, who are all too ready to cry sorcery if a woman is only a little wiser than they are” (Bradley 1195). Catholics in Mists of Avalon feared the Pagans and criticized their religion ignorantly. Christians burned suspected witches or sorceresses with little to no evidence in Le Morte d’Arthur. Once the religious Elaine wondered about Morgaine, “How could any woman be so good when she worshipped devils and refused Christ” (Bradley 710). The Pagan society had different ideas about “natural” gender roles and qualities (Stypczynski 2). While Christians forced women into subordinate domestic…show more content…
In Malory’s work, the subjection of women continues in marital relationships which he portrays as distant and false, occasionally loving. When the knights left in their quest to find the Holy Grail, the women cried, including Gwenhwyfar who “departed into her chamber and held her, so that no man should perceive her great sorrows” (Malory 851). Married women avoided crying even in front of their husbands, so as not to trouble them. This action demonstrates an emotional disconnect between spouses in medieval marriages as described in Le Morte d’Arthur. In addition to being somewhat distant, Gwenhwyfar and Arthur’s marriage causes great conflict. Gwenhwyfar, upon meeting Lancelot, becomes a lustful, adulterous wife, which eventually disturbs Camelot, the brotherhood of Arthur’s knights, and causes Arthur’s death. Unfaithful wives appear frequently in Malory’s text and always take full blame for their mistakes. One of Morgan le Fay’s tricks involved a horn that revealed if a woman had committed adultery. When a queen and a hundred other ladies drank from the horn, only four women had been faithful. The king tried to burn all the guilty women, but his barons forbade their execution because the horn had come from the witch, Morgan le Fay, and might be trickery. The motif of adulteresses in the older story demonstrates a medieval view of marriage and…show more content…
In Le Morte d’Arthur, King Arthur requires that his noble knights swear an oath to be merciful, righteous in their battles, and honorable to women. Honoring women, however, did not mean feminist equality of men and women. Instead, a chivalrous man considered it his duty as a man to heroically protect and honor women. Chivalry continues discrimination of women, who men thought could not defend or fight for themselves. The men in Malory’s stories, however, have difficulty remaining chivalrous. Sir Gawaine is an example of heroism’s flaws. Because chivalry protected women, Sir Gawaine got in trouble for killing a lady. However, his punishment for murdering a woman was only a request “that ever he should be courteous, and never refuse mercy to him that asketh mercy” (Bradley 306). Heroism, chivalry, and protection supposedly honor women, but Malory’s women receive treatment more suited for a child, pet, or possession than of an adult equal in status to
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