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The Role of Queen Guinevere in King Arthur and His Knights

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She is the most perdurable female figure in King Arthur and his Knights. Without her the suspense and the plot flow could not have been achieved. Her influence has enabled her to penetrate into men’s world a trait that distinguishes her from the rest of the women. Knights are referred to as the queen’s knights. We could say the same of the ladies who accompany the queen and keep the knights in good company (pg.52) .Queen Guinevere, as the King’s wife, is acknowledged by males.

But despite her access to the Round Table, she has no legitimate power. She is a woman figure who can be discarded as desired. Her presence in the male dominated arena is a source of discord among them. She is resented as a threat to the bonds of men, an eventuality which will lead to the end of the Round Table. She is represented as a danger to the misogynist circle.

Malory gives Guinevere a maternal character, whose love is expected to be impartial to her children, and in this case to her knights. By being the king’s wife, Queen Guinevere acquires a political and a symbolic duty in the kingdom, but this status does not exempt her from male’s contempt towards the female gender. All her attempts to improve her status are watered down by male rivalry.

Queen Guinevere does not find pleasure in the male company. Love, the only benefit she could reap from men is given no room. Guinevere’s preference for Sir Lancelot creates animosity amongst the Knights of the Round Table. Her illegitimate affair is resented by Sir Modred as betrayal. The latter’s concealed jealousy towards Sir Lancelot turns into an open demonstration of loyalty to the King Arthur and eventually to unprecedented war.

Queen Guinevere is a source of trouble among the Knights of the Round Tab...

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... the male gender, for it is the only language men decipher with ease. Love, a probable ground on which men and women can converge is divisive and destructive to all those who turn to it in their efforts to bridge the gender gap.

The capacity to conceive and give birth adds value to the women in Malory. Lady Igraine’s significance is only mentioned in relation to King Arthur’s birth. Through Galahad, Elaine’s importance is underlined, but all the glory goes to Lancelot and Galahad himself. Queen Guinevere is childless and this could be the reason why she is not appealing to King Arthur. The latter focuses his attention on Sir Gawain and Sir Lancelot as his possible heirs. Sir Thomas Malory’s female characters are centered on male ideals and traits. Women can only be considered in relation to heroic male actions, roles which they complement or defy.
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