Women of Words in Le Morte Darthur: The Autonomy of Speech in Malory's Female Characters (Arthurian and Courtly Cultures) (Hardcover)
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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, Siobh n 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.