Essay about Authurian Literature

Essay about Authurian Literature

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All women have power in Arthurian Literature and all those portrayed are always a threat to patriarchy. They all have the ability to do or to use magic [possible exception is Isode, she seems to simply be a victim of it]. Maidens use magic almost constantly [Lunete and Lyonet], beloveds have access to it [Isode is victim to the potion, whilst Laudine has a magic ring and is plagued by ownership of a particularly vicious Jungian fountain]. Enchantresses are slightly more complicated. Although there are some women who can be purely designated `witch' [Morgan le Fay, Nenieve/ Vivian/ Nimue] the pervasion of magical signifiers throughout the text in reference to women means that the term `witch' cannot simply be attached to those who use magic. Neither can it be reserved for those who use magic directly against patriarchy: Nenieve/ Nimue may lock Merlin away in a cave but after that she uses her magic to protect Arthur and his knights, often at the cost of other women. Only Morgan constantly uses magic in a destructive [to patriarchy] way. All the accepted boundaries are blurred in this case so there need to be new categories in this sense. There are already the categories of `heroine', `female hero' and `female counter-hero'; but these refer to their influence in the world without direct reference to their magic: it is seen simply as a way for them to exert control and subversion rather than as their defining feature.

I think you can argue that all women are essentially magical, they live in a spiritual world whilst men live in the literal one. There is only one man in the text who exerts [non-Christian] magic. Merlin, however, is removed from the text by Nimue quite early on. Therefore magic in the text always spring from a f...


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...eroes without worrying about conflicting loyalties. Both Lunete in Yvain and Dame Lyonet in Malory's Tale of Sir Gareth have female attachments, Lunete to Laudine and Lyonet to her sister, but these not only do not obstruct them from but encourage them to help the heroes in their stories.

Maidens have the ability to travel wherever they please. They travel freely between the confines of the court and the wilds of the Other. The frequent appearance of maidens in the wild not only allows them to help Knights in their tasks but also shows the potential threat of their sexuality. It is only through helping knights that this threat is removed. In the same way maidens also appear in connection with water. Jungian theory holds that water is an example of female sexuality. It is the threat posed by their sexuality that kills both Percival's sister and Elaine D'Ascolat

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