Women Characters in Arthurian Literature
Diploma Thesis, Masaryk University, Brno (2007)
Much has been written about what is now called Arthurian literature and the amount of this literature is a clear evidence of the unrelenting popularity of this topic. There have, of course, been times when writers’ attention was diverted in a different direction, the Renaissance era being the best example. The Arthurian legends, however, always find a way of winning back their popularity. The twentieth and the twenty-first centuries, in particular, brought new ways of portraying this one thousand years old topic. The endless popularity of the Arthurian matter is, therefore, one of the major motivations for writing this paper.
The focus of this paper on women characters in Arthurian literature is inspired by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s novel The Mists of Avalon (1979) which established a completely new perspective on Arthurian legends. Bradley’s new reading of the stories of the knights of the Round Table with its focus on women characters in particular showed that the Arthurian legends are a question of interpretation and this made the writer of this paper consider the ways previous Arthurian literature was read and the way the stories were interpreted. The main issue, then, is how Arthurian women characters have been portrayed throughout the centuries and the reasons for those particular ways of portrayal.