Unveiling her majesty's purposes: Malory's Guinevere as structural center

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Justine Mikaloff (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
Lewis Walker

Abstract: Considering the context of Le Morte Darthur, we may find it difficult to believe that Thomas Malory could have been much of a feminist; and yet, he manages to construct some of the most powerful feminine literary characters of his time. Arrested on charges of rape, Malory spent years in and out of jail, gaining himself a reputation as a scoundrel. His magnum opus, based in the older written tales of Arthurian legend, would seem to provide Malory’s fictional chauvinists a safe haven for their shenanigans. Characters like Sirs Lancelot and Palomides have free rein through Arthur’s Camelot – until, of course, the fateful battle on Salisbury Plain. However, Malory gives his female characters ample room to manipulate circumstances – this is especially true of characters like Queen Guinevere, who enjoys a powerful central role, making her a key to understanding the text itself. The thesis explores the importance of Guinevere, focusing both on the power dynamic and on the Queen’s position as an intrinsic figure in understanding Malory’s structural technique. In Malory’s construction, the narrative structure of Le Morte Darthur reflects the shifting power structure of Camelot and the Round Table. Arthur’s supremacy is superficial only; once Guinevere appears as a strong, capable woman, she becomes the power behind the throne and the force that moves the story. Since her siphoning off of power undercuts Arthur’s role as king, her position produces a fatal instability in Camelot’s dynamic. Guinevere’s rise means that Arthur’s fall is inevitable.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Arthurian romances , Guenevere, Queen (Legendary character)--Romances, Malory Thomas Sir 15th cent. Morte d'Arthur, Queens in literature
Malory, Thomas, Sir, 15th cent. Morte d'Arthur
Guenevere, Queen (Legendary character) -- Romances
Arthurian romances
Queens in literature

Email this document to