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Analysis of The Mists of Avalon. By: Olivia Spoon. How does retelling the Arthurian narrative through a feminist perspective shift the themes and focus of King Arthur, his knights, and Camelot? . Research Question.

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How does retelling the Arthurian narrative through a feminist perspective shift the themes and focus of King Arthur, his knights, and Camelot?

Research Question

the mists of avalon
Bradley’s retelling depicts how the issue of chivalry, masculinity, and the patriarchal system supported in Middle Ages Christianity influences the women of the Arthurian narrative (McClain, 197).The Mists of Avalon


the mists of avalon1
Mists of Avalon can be best understood as a feminist retelling of the Arthurian narrative that depicts the effects of the culture clash between patriarchal and matriarchal societies. The Mists of Avalon


who tells the story
Who tells the story?
  • Arthur’s conception
  • Arthur’s rise as King
  • Formation of round table
  • Lancelot/Gwenhwyfar
  • Camelot’s fall
  • Igraine
  • Viviane/Morgaine
  • Morgaine
  • Gwenhwyfar
  • Morgaine
patriarchal and matriarchal religions
Patriarchal and Matriarchal Religions


Avalon (Celtic)

Open religion that affirms many gods

Affirms matriarchal society


Religious leaders


  • Domineering religion that requires belief in one God
  • Affirms patriarchal society
    • Marriage
    • Religious leaders
    • Worship
patriarchal and matriarchal religion continued
Patriarchal and Matriarchal religion(continued)

Critique of Christianity

Critique of Celtic religion

Viviane (also called Lady of the Lake and High Priestess of Avalon)

Her loyalty to the Mother Goddess and Avalon causes her to use family without considering their feelings or emotional suffering

  • Patricius (Camelot’s most powerful Christian priest)
    • His fundamentalism and misogyny forcefully removes the influence of Celtic tradition and abuses the female characters
the mists of avalon2
Bradley’s juxtaposition of matriarchal and patriarchal traditions calls for coexistence of both traditions, rather than the two warring against one another.The Mistsof Avalon


works cited
Works Cited
  • Bradley, Marion Zimmer. The Mists of Avalon. New York: The Ballatine Publishing Group, 1982. Print
  • Fry, Carrol L. “’What God Doth the Wizard Pray to:’ Neo-Pagan Witchcraft and Fantasy Fiction.” Extrapolation. 31.4. (1990): 334-347. Print.
  • Malory, Thomas. New York: W.W. Norton & Compant, 2003. Print.
works cited continued
Works Cited (continued)
  • McClain, Lee Tobin. “Gender Anxiety in Arthurian Romance.” Extrapolation. 38.3 (1997): 193-199. Print.
  • Saunders, Corinne. “Religion and magic” The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend. Ed. Elizabeth Archibald and Ad Putter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 200. 201-217. Print.
  • Tobin, Lee Ann. “Why Change the Arthur Story? Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon.” Extrapolation. 34.2 (1993): 147-157 Print.