Women of Words in Le Morte Darthur

The Autonomy of Speech in Malory’s Female Characters

  • Siobhán M. Wyatt

Part of the Arthurian and Courtly Cultures book series (SACC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Siobhán M. Wyatt
    Pages 1-13
  3. Siobhán M. Wyatt
    Pages 15-58
  4. Siobhán M. Wyatt
    Pages 59-106
  5. Siobhán M. Wyatt
    Pages 139-181
  6. Siobhán M. Wyatt
    Pages 183-186
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 187-203

About this book


Offering a new reading of Malory’s famed text, Le Morte Darthur, this book provides the first full-length survey of the alterations Malory made to female characters in his source texts. Through detailed comparisons with both Old French and Middle English material, Siobhán M. Wyatt discusses how Malory radically altered his French and English source texts to create a gendered pattern in the reliability of speech, depicting female discourse as valuable and truthful. Malory’s authorial crafting indicates his preference for a certain “type” of female character: self-governing, opinionated, and strong.  Simultaneously, the portrayal of this very readable “type” yields characterization. While late medieval court records indicate an increasingly negative attitude towards female speech and a tendency to punish vociferous women as “scolds,” Malory makes the words of chiding damsels constructive. While his contemporary writers suppress the powers of magical women, Malory empowers his enchantress characters; while the authors of his French source texts accentuate Guinevere’s flaws, Malory portrays her with sympathy.


Malory Female Characters Le Morte Darthur Medieval Literature

Authors and affiliations

  • Siobhán M. Wyatt
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeLondonUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information