Analysis of The Mists of Avalon

By: Olivia Spoon
Research Question
• 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).
• 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.
Arthur’s conception
Arthur’s rise as King
Formation of round table
Camelot’s fall
• Domineering religion that
requires belief in one God
• Affirms patriarchal society
• Marriage
• Religious leaders
• Worship
Avalon (Celtic)
• Open religion that affirms
many gods
• Affirms matriarchal society
• Marriage
• Religious leaders
• Worship
Critique of Christianity
• Patricius (Camelot’s most
powerful Christian priest)
• His fundamentalism and
misogyny forcefully removes the
influence of Celtic tradition and
abuses the female characters
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
• Bradley’s juxtaposition of
matriarchal and patriarchal
traditions calls for coexistence
of both traditions, rather than
the two warring against one
• 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:’ NeoPagan Witchcraft and Fantasy Fiction.” Extrapolation. 31.4.
(1990): 334-347. Print.
• Malory, Thomas. New York: W.W. Norton & Compant, 2003.
• 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. 201217. Print.
• Tobin, Lee Ann. “Why Change the Arthur Story? Marion Zimmer
Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon.” Extrapolation. 34.2 (1993): 147157 Print.

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