The Role of Women in the Arthurian Legends

4 April 2015
A paper which analyzes different versions of the King Arthur legends and discusses the roles of the female characters.

The paper shows that we can perhaps best come to an understanding of the role that women play in the Arthurian legends by examining the love story of Lancelot and Guinevere. It explains that we see in Guinevere the different roles and functions that women are supposed to meet in this world and the impossibility of their being able to fulfill each and every one of those roles. The paper discusses however, that we do not see these things in her as an independent character but rather in her relationships to Lancelot and to Arthur. This is in fact only appropriate, for women in the Arthurian ring do not stand by themselves. They are continually defined through their relationships to men. The paper discusses the works of several writers of Arthurian legends including Sir Thomas Malory and Chretien de Troyes.
“Within the Arthurian legend, Morgan le Fay is often referred to as a queen and she is one of the three queens who tempts Lancelot, making her in this important way a parallel to Guinevere. But while Guinevere is as loyal as she can be to Arthur and betrays him reluctantly and at great personal cost, Morgan stands in opposition to Arthur with ease. Like the fay in the Cu Chulainn tale, this Morgan is a sort of semi-divine adversary whose role in this world is not to love Arthur (or Lancelot) but to serve as an agonist, as an antagonist who helps to keep Arthur and his knights on their guard.”

How to cite The Role of Women in the Arthurian Legends essay

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The Role of Women in the Arthurian Legends. (2015, Apr 23). Retrieved January 7, 2021, from
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