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Female Discourses: Powerful and Powerless Speech in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur

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FEMALE DISCOURSES: POWERFUL AND POWERLESS SPEECH IN SIR THOMAS MALORY’S LE MORTE DARTHUR By YEKATERINA ZIMMERMAN A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2005

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Copyright 2005 by Yekaterina Zimmerman

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iii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank the ch air of my committee, Dr. Diana Boxer, for being my mentor for all these years, for her guidance, emotional support and for having an answer to every question and a solution for every problem. My wholehearted thanks go to my comm ittee members Dr. Will Hasty, Dr. D. Gary Miller and Dr. Marie Nelson for all their kind help, support, guidance and encouragement. This work would not have been possible without them.

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iv TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iii ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... vi CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 Overview....................................................................................................................... 1 A Historical Outlook on Le Morte Darthur ..................................................................2 Methodology.................................................................................................................4 Notes.......................................................................................................................... .10 2 APPLICATION OF DISCOURSE ANAL YSIS TO THE DISCOURSES OF MALORY’S LE MORTE DARTHUR ........................................................................11 Introduction.................................................................................................................11 Speech Acts and Interactional Sociolinguistics..........................................................14 Ethnography of Communication an d Conversational Analysis..................................22 Critical Discourse Analysis........................................................................................27 Conclusion..................................................................................................................29 Notes.......................................................................................................................... .30 3 GENDER AND LANGUAGE IN LE MORTE DARTHUR .......................................31 Introduction.................................................................................................................31 Conflict Discourse......................................................................................................35 Defensive Language...................................................................................................35 Conflict Discourse......................................................................................................39 Confrontation..............................................................................................................39 Women’s Talk and Triviality......................................................................................42 Advising Discourse.....................................................................................................42 Isode’s Advice............................................................................................................42 Nagging.......................................................................................................................4 5 Advice and Compliments...........................................................................................48 Guinevere’s Advice....................................................................................................49 Arguing and the Triviality Issue.................................................................................50 (Guinevere – Lancelot)...............................................................................................50

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v Conclusion..................................................................................................................52 Notes.......................................................................................................................... .53 4 THE COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF POWERFUL AND POWERLESS SPEECH IN MALORY AND THE SOURCES........................................................54 Introduction.................................................................................................................54 Femininity and Gender Stereotypes............................................................................55 Powerful and Powerless Speech.................................................................................56 Powerful and Powerless Speech Within the Theme of...............................................60 Powerful and Powerless Speech.................................................................................70 Powerful and Powerless Speech within th e Themes of Amour Courtois and Earthly Love............................................................................................................73 Conclusion..................................................................................................................78 Notes.......................................................................................................................... .78 5 CONCLUSION...........................................................................................................79 Overview.....................................................................................................................79 Limitations of the Research........................................................................................84 Directions for Further Research..................................................................................85 Closing Remarks.........................................................................................................86 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................88 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................96

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vi Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy FEMALE DISCOURSES: POWERFUL AND POWERLESS SPEECH IN SIR THOMAS MALORY’S LE MORTE DARTHUR By Yekaterina Zimmerman December 2005 Chair: Diana Boxer Major Department: Linguistics This work provides a socioli nguistic discourse analysis of female discourses in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur Discourse analysis of power relations in female speech incorporates the methodology of Et hnography of Communication, as well as the Discourse-Historical method of critical text analysis, adopted for literary discourses. Various approaches to discourse analysis initially designed for the analysis of spontaneous “live” conversations, were found applicable to the analysis of literary discourses. Malory’s style of narration differs from the stor y-telling tradition of his time in that the emphasis is shifted from desc ription to conversati on. Contrary to the assumption of marginality of literary discourses as invented rather than spontaneous, discourse analysis of literary conversations contributes to the understanding of literary meaning. In addition, the present analysis c ontributes to a better understanding of gender differences in discourse and th e role of power in female in teractions through historical perspective. Power relations, bot h implicit and explicit, are a driving force in all kinds of

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vii verbal interactions in Le Morte Darthur Powerless and powerful speaking styles are used interchangeably by the female characters th roughout the sequences of speech events. Thus, powerless style of discour se is by no means typical of Malory’s female characters, unless used strategically in order to assert power. Verbal interactions of female characters of Le Morte Darthur are analyzed in various instances of speech behavior, su ch as advice, apology, conflict managing, complaining, nagging and teasing. In mixedgender communications, the patterns of interaction frequently conform to the pa tterns established for modern male/female communications by the studies on gender and la nguage. This phenomenon attests to the stability of the patterns through times and cultural variations. Finally, the comparative analysis of female discourses, particularly the discourses involving the concepts of earthly life and ear thly love, reveals Malory’s philosophy and the profound message of Le Morte Darthur

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Overview This dissertation provides a sociolinguisti c discourse analysis of the speech of female characters in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur In particular, the present study reveals and examines powerful and pow erless features in the discourses of Malory’s female characters. The perception of women’s speech by their interlocutors in Le Morte Darthur is also analyzed in this dissertation. A historic outlook on gender roles allows for a comparison of the uncommon roles of Malory’s heroines, as revealed by their ve rbal behavior, to the portrayal of women in other literary texts from medieval era. Thus this research incorporates the historic perspective on gender roles, as well as th e discussion of the concepts of power and gender differences in language, and appl ying the methodology of discourse analysis, attempts an in-depth analysis of the inte rplay of speech behavior, gender and power in Le Morte Darthur Although there has been a great deal of work written on Malory in the field of literary criticism as well as dialectology, th ere has not been a study that looks at Le Morte Darthur from the point of view of discourse an alysis. The importance of such analysis becomes evident from even a brief examination of the misconceptions surrounding Malory’s work for over 500 years.

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2 A Historical Outlook on Le Morte Darthur Le Morte Darthur has received diverse and dras tically disparate opinions and interpretations since the time it was first published in 1485, fourt een years after Sir Thomas Malory’s death.1 Even Malory’s first publisher William Caxton2 seemed uncertain what to make of the book, as eviden t from his introduction/preface, in which he instructed the reader to “D oo after the good and leve the evyl, and it shall brynge you to good fame and renommee” [do after good and leave the evil and it shall bring you good fame and reputation] (cited from 1899 edition: 2). Caxton cautiously added that “for to pass the tyme this book shal be plesaunte to re de in, but for to gyve fayth and byleve that al is trewe that is contayne d herein, ye be at your lybert e” (Ibid.: 2) [meaning that the book is pleasant to read, but if you want to be lieve everything in it, you are at your own risk]. One of the early critics, Roger Ascham, wa s less benevolent, st ating that “in this book those counted the noblest knights that do kill most men without any quarrel, and commit foulest adulteries by s ubtlest shifts” (Ascham, 1570, cited in Strachey, 1899: 21). Strachey (1899:23), praising the poetic qua lities of the book, commented: “despite a really different standard of morals from any whic h we should now holdup the writer does for the most part endeavor, though often in but imperfect and confused manner, to distinguish between vice and virtue, and honestly reprobate the former; and thus shows that his object is to recognize and support the nobler elements of the social state in which he lived.” Strachey does not elaborat e on what he means by a “ different standard of morals,” but to give some idea of Strachey’s own con cept of moral standard, in his 1899 edition of Le Morte Darthur he abridged all the scenes containing sexual connotations. Such

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3 treatment of a lite rary masterpiece is a graphic example of what Cook (1994: 2) calls an “unpleasant reduction of literatur e to the role of moral tuto r or vicarious experience.” Although moral tutorship was a main purpose of western literature from the beginning of Christianity to the XVIII centu ry at least, it must be adm itted that this function became less prominent with time (Cook, 1994). It seems that modern readers, as well as filmmakers, still struggle to understand the moral principles behind Le Morte Darthur though moral dilemma is seen mostly in the adulterous affair of Lancelot and Guinevere, rather than in the sexual content as a whole. Eugne Vinaver (1954), in his unalter ed edition of Malory’s book, described Le Morte Darthur as the revival of the heroic id eal of loyalty to a great cause3. He rejected Walter Scott’s widely known verdict of Malory ’s work as “extracted at hazard, without much art or combination, from various French sources” (7). While most of the modern literary analysts lean towards Vinaver’s ev aluation of the book in general, the female characters and their roles in Le Morte Darthur still receive disparate, sometimes incompatible interpretations. Malory’s heroines are seen as either a threat to spiritual endeavors (McInerney, 2001), or an embodiment of weakness and infidelity (Edwards, 1996; Wheeler and Tolhurst, 2001), or as de stroyers of knights and the order of knighthood (Fries, 1980; 1994), or else as mere witnesses of the deeds of honor (Armstrong, 2003). It seems that the verbal behavi or of the female characters is the main source of the contradictory interpretations. Male and female roles in Le Morte Darthur are seen as antip odal (LaFarge, 1992; Armstrong, 2001; Gibson, 2001), with extreme ma sculinity of the knights and ultimate

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4 femininity of the ladies, while any deviations from such formula are treated as a reversal of sex-roles (LaFarge, 1992; Fries, 1996; Gibson, 2001). The purpose of this dissertation, in ad dition to conducting a sociolinguistic discourse analysis of the female speech behavior in Le Morte Darthur is to address the misconceptions concerning the roles of the female charac ters therein. Ultimately, the findings of this study may contribute to the understanding of meaning of Le Morte Darthur in particular, the roles of women as re vealed through the analysis of female discourses. Methodology The present analysis of pow erful and powerless attributes in the speaking style of Malory’s female characters incorporates me thodologies of socioli nguistics and discourse analysis. Various approaches to discourse analysis are discussed and ap plied to the text analysis, with a main focus on the me thodology of ethnographic approach, which emphasizes settings, contexts and social conventions, as components of discourse analysis (Gumperz and Hyme s, 1972; Hymes, 1974; Savill e-Troike, 1982; Coulthard, 1985). The historical context of interact ion, introduced by Habermas (1970, 1971) and incorporated into Critical Discourse An alysis (CDA), in particular into the discoursehistorical method (Wodak et al., 1990; Titsher et al., 2000, and references therein), is relevant to the present analysis The historical approach to discourse analysis includes not only an accurate record of settings and contexts but also a requirement for the content of the discourse to be confronted with all relevant historical facts and ev ents (Titsher et al., 2000: 159).

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5 The methods of linguistic di scourse analysis have been initially developed in respect to conversational comm unication, while their applicabili ty to literary discourses was for a long time put to doubt by the speech act theorists (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1975). Structural analysis of narrative as a form of discourse, the narratology (Todorov, 1969; Greimas, 1970), emerged at the interface of anthropology, formal logic and cognitive psychology as “the integrated study of all levels of narrati ve phenomena” (Pavel, 1985). Pivotal for the narratology was the analysis of literary meaning Derivable from abstract description of intertextual structures, this an alysis was first applied to folktale and myth structures (Propp, 1928; Lvi-S trauss, 1958). It was discove red within this line of research that narrativ e could be understood as inter action of semiotic levels by discovering the operations of transfer from deep structures to surface structures (Chomsky, 1965; Greimas, 1970; Courts, 1976). Chomsky’s (1965) concept of deep and su rface structures, applied to the study of literary meaning, plays an important role in the present analysis. Another consequential theory for the literary discourse an alysis is the structural concept of mode and voice (Genette, 1972, cited in Pavel, 1985) referr ing to the narrative distances, perspectives, and poi nts of view (“who sees?” “w ho speaks?”). These concepts presuppose that speech event is not a matter be tween speaker and addressee, but involves, to various degrees, other components and pa rticipants. This appr oach provides for recognition of variously distanced and focused narrators and h earers, such as the author, the implicit or explicit narrator, the implic it or explicit reader, spectator and reflector (Stanzel, 1979). From the point of view of th is analysis, Malory’s narration can be seen

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6 not only as literary discourse between the auth or and the implicit reader, but also as an implicit debate between Malory and his sources. William Labov (1999: 231) also emphasized the reflexive nature of literary meaning, stating that “pointless stories are met (in English) with the withering rejoinder; ‘So what?’ Every good narrator is continually warding off this question; when the narrative is over, it should be unthinkab le for a bystander to say, ‘So what?’” It has also been argued that the original intentions of the author do not constitute the full meaning of a literary work, which is not solely created by the author, but supplied by the reader (Beardsley, 1958). As such, the meaning depends on the current conventions and changes in these conventions In effect, the mean ing evolves from one generation of readers to another. This theo ry may explain the changing perceptions of morality in Le Morte Darthur that vary according to the moral standard of the readers’ era. As mentioned before, theories of discour se analysis appearing under the influence of, or in parallel with, the structuralist narratology, pert ained in the first place to conversational communication. Their pragmatic objective has been th e effectiveness of verbal interaction in respect to the fore-p lanned purposes and the emergent goals of individual speakers and the interactive sy stem as a whole. Accordingly, Speech Act Theory emphasized appropriateness (Austi n, 1962, 1975; Searle, 1975) as a critical evaluative variable for which a set of prin ciples and maxims have been formulated (Grice, 1975). Critical evaluation of this approa ch to the literary disc ourse analysis can be found in Levin (1976) and Pratt (1977).

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7 A supposedly alternative, but in many aspects complementary approach commences, as Dell Hymes (1974:VIII) indicates, with the ideas of Sapir (1929), stating that linguistics is in danger of becoming scholas tic if not vitalized by the interests that lie beyond the formal interests in language. One such vitalizing interest was found in the application of linguistics to the study of human behavior, as a link between anthropology, ethnography, sociology and psychology, know n as the Ethnography of Communication. In listing a number of “orientations towa rd language” that are essential for the Ethnography of Communication, Hymes (1974:9) designates “the appropriateness of linguistic elements and messages” to be added to the multifunctional concept of language and “the community or other social cont ext as starting point of analysis and understanding.” Returning to the appropria teness later in th e discussion, Hymes (1974:156) states that this propert y is, in fact, a relation between sentences and contexts requiring analysis of both. Moreover, the comm unicative conduct of community is seen as a starting point of ethnogr aphic linguistic analysis. This approach is essential for understa nding the meaning of the discourses in Le Morte Darthur, as these discourses are rooted in the cultural and histor ic context. For instance, the phrase “Keep thee” (or “Keep th ee away”), frequently uttered by the knights in Malory, and signaling the beginning of a j oust, is entirely unintelligible without the knowledge of the norms of intera ction within this pa rticular cultural event (i.e., the joust). Without knowing the cultural and social norm of interaction, in this case, of the relevant historic timeframe, it is impossible to determ ine whether the discour se participants are violating these norms or adhering to them.

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8 Another method of discourse analysis, the elements of which are incorporated in this work, is Critical Discourse Analyses (CDA) a method of text anal ysis that identifies literary meaning with social meaning, postu lating a correlation between social and linguistic structure (Fairc louth, 1989, 1992, 1995; an overv iew of philosophical and sociological works that contributed to CDA can be found in Titscher et al., 2000). Fairclouth (1995) convincingly demonstrat ed interrelation an d the reciprocal methodological impacts of intertextual analysis and discourse analysis. A less politically committed, but more cons cious of historical components branch of CDA, the discourse-historical met hod (Wodak, 1990; Wodak and Reisiegl, 1999) develops the concept of disc ourse as a complex cluster of simultaneous and sequential thematically interrelate d linguistic events occu rring within a specifi c social field. This methodology presupposes interconnectedness of di scursive and other social practices, giving a due attention to sp eech situations, the professi onal and social status of participants, as well as their political commit ments. It requires an accurate recording of settings and contexts, a precise description of text at all linguistic le vels, and, above all, a comparison of the utterances with historical events and facts as well as their intertextual analysis. Although the methodology of discourse-h istorical method is usually applied to the studies of modern texts of political significance, the above mentioned techniques are also applicable to the pres ent analysis of hi storical novel, such as Malory’s Le Morte Darthur Literary meaning emerges at transition from deep to surface structure, for which a variety of devices are used, among them structural and/or semantic reversals (Zholkovsky, 1985). A reversal at the surface level becomes meaningful at the deep-

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9 structure level. For example, Gibson (2001) interprets the tale of Gareth (Bewmaynes) and Linet as a carnival reversal of male a nd female speech style, assuming that the overpowering and derisive la nguage of Linet is characte ristic of masculine speech. However, this interpretation only functions if derisive language is s een as an exclusive feature of male language (see Chapter 4 fo r the discussion on gender and language). In my view, powerful/powerle ss speaking styles are sometimes reversed in Malory in order to reveal the deep structures of interpersonal re lationships. In other words, Malory’s characters alter their verbal behavior, switching between powerful and powerless styles, depending on the situation of the speech event, configuration of participants, including the author, the reading audience and other factors, as demonstrated in the following chapters of the present work. Chapter 2, entitled “Application of Disc ourse Analysis to the Discourses of Le Morte Darthu r ,” demonstrates how different appro aches to discourse analysis can be combined and applied to the analysis of powerful and powerless female discourses. The chapter aims to show that a combination of di fferent approaches to discourse analysis is beneficial to the present study. Chapter 3 di scusses the issue of powerful and powerless discourses in Le Morte Darthur in relation to gender differences in speech, and within the framework of sociolinguistics and gende r and language. Finally, Chapter 4 is a comparative analysis of powerful and pow erless female discourses in Malory’s Le Morte Darthur and the sources. The dissertation concludes with an overvi ew of the analysis herein, and offers directions for further researc h, as well as a discussion of the limitations of the study.

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10 Notes 1. Malory’s work is entitled Le Morte Darthur in Caxton’s first edition (1481), as well as in Oscar Sommer’s first complete modern script edition (1891), which is the exact replica of Caxton’s edition, except for the original Gothic script that has been substituted by Sommer for modern script. 2. In this dissertation I quote from E. Vi naver’s 1970 edition of Malory’s book, entitled “Malory.” This edition slightly di ffers from Sommer’s, as it is based not on Caxton’s first edition, but on a recently found Winchester manuscript of Malory’s work. The Winchester manuscript and Caxton’ s edition exhibit slight discrepancies that are, in our opinion, unessential for this work. 3. Vinaver’s edition differs from Sommer’s, as it is edited by Vinaver in a way of inserting punctuation marks and adding addi tional chapter titles. In my view, it is important to use both editions for reference.

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11 CHAPTER 2 APPLICATION OF DISCOURSE ANALYSIS TO THE DISCOURSES OF MALORY’S LE MORTE DARTHUR Than the quene seyde, ‘I will take with me suche knyghtes as lykyth me beste.’ ‘Do as ye lyste’, seyde kynge Arthure.1 Le Morte Darthur Introduction In this chapter I apply the analytic al frameworks of the Ethnography of Communication and Conversation Analys is to the discourses of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur I also incorporate in the analysis the elements of Speech Act Theory and Interactional Sociolinguistics. It must be noted that the analytical fram eworks I refer to have been designed for “live” discourses rather than for the analys is of literary text. Nonetheless, Fairclough (1989) argues that textual anal ysis involving a simultaneous an alysis of content and form or “texture” of the text is in fact, a part of discou rse analysis. While analyzing Shakespearean literature, Coulthard (1985) also suggested that a detailed analysis of authorial technique and stylistic features can be more successfully achieved within a rigorous linguistic framework. Indeed, it is important to consider the role and participation of the author in verbal intera ctions of the text when applying discourse analysis to the analysis of literary te xt. The methodology of Ethnography of Speaking defined by Hymes (1962) may be particularly effective in analyzing the author's participation in literary discourses, as ES framework recognizes five major participant roles: addresser, addressee, speaker, hearer and audience. While the literary characters

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12 are engaged in the addresser – addressee interaction, the author and the reader assume the respective roles of a speaker (or “speaker fo r another”) and the audience. In a relevant argument Pratt (1977) notes that Grice’s ( 1975) co-operative princi ple (which includes the maxims of relation, quality, quantity, and manner, requiring the speaker to be relevant, clear, consistent and parsim onious in keeping with the purposes of conversation) can be applied to both author – re ader interaction and to the interactions of discourse participants of the l iterary text. Just as “live” pa rticipants of discourse often violate Grice’s cooperative principle, so do the participants of textua l discourses. As Pratt (1977) and Coulthard (1985) ha ve shown, such violations are crucial for discourse analysis, as they are often intenti onal. In Coulthard’s example from Othello while being interrogated by Othello, Desdemona systemati cally violates the maxims with an “offrecord” purpose of acquitting Cassio. Literary texts are dependent on social and historical resources, which are defined by Bakhtin (1986) as genres, a mixture of which of ten occurs within a te xt. In the case of a historical novel, it is inevita ble that the discourses are crea ted by the author or borrowed from the period sources or a mixture of sour ces relevant to the described events. In Malory’s case, there are virtua lly no authentic sources of th e period to which his heroes are assigned (that is the 5th or 6th centuries, known as the “D ark Ages”). The earliest historical or pseudo-historic al accounts of these periods of time appeared in the 12th century, while their allegedly Celtic sources ar e either lost or non-existent. The literary sources from which Malory drew his materi al were mostly of Armorican Briton or Norman origin (Bruce, 1987). However, the cont ents of the above sources, particularly the discourses, were greatly altered or compos ed in their entirety by Malory (who thereby

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13 became a participant in these discourses). It seems likely that Malory also adopted the communication styles of his 15th Century cont emporaries for the verbal interactions of his characters, thus adding a distinguishable hi storic timeframe to their discourses. It is a situation similar to what Kristeva (1986) descri bes as “the insertion of history into a text and of the text into history.” The application of the modern methods of discourse analysis to the verbal exchanges of Le Morte Darthur reveals the use of verbal contextualization cues, identity display, face-work, conversati onal competence of the opening s, sustenance, and other discourse features addre ssed in this chapter. Power is another phenomenon “brought in to play through discourse” (Hutchby, 1999). According to Foucault (1977), power is an interactive concept, a potential that is not merely possessed by an agent, but reinfo rced, accepted or resisted by the others. In Medieval society the distribut ion of power was largely dete rmined by the social status. Those of noble status were in stantly recognized by their dres s or heraldic bearings and treated accordingly. Perhaps for that reason, or rather in spite of it, Malory (himself a nobleman) seemed to be in favor of the s ituations in which th e knights of noble birth (such as Sir Gareth) would disguise thei r identities, thereby choosing to take no advantage of their high social status.2 Such masquerades allow for various instances of miscommunication, numerous misundersta ndings, jokes, and arguments. Moreover, on the level of author – audience communication, the masquerades could be Malory’s way of hinting to the reader that true identities of the historical persons depicted in the novel are hidden behind the masks. In the words of Helen Cooper (1996: 265), “there is more going on in Le Morte than meets the eye.” Thus, for diverse reasons,

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14 Malory’s characters at times display their id entities, while at other times find it best to conceal them. In a similar way, the social status in Le Morte Darthur can be displayed or downplayed, depending on the purpose of the interaction and the participants. King Arthur in Le Morte Darthur is the founder of the Round Table, the symbol of equality; hence, Arthur often downplays his royal status in th e verbal exchanges with the knights of the Court to demonstrate his equa lity with the knights. In contrast, the principal female characters, such as Queen Guinevere (King Arthur’s wife), Queen Morgouse of Orkney or Dame Linet frequently display their high soci al status in their interactions. Yet another heroine, Queen Isode of Ireland, renounces her royal status for the sake of her lover Trystram, but maintains a high position in society due to her extraordinary communicative competence (as di scussed in the following section, entitled “Speech Acts and Interactional Sociolinguist ics”). Thus, Malory’s characters exhibit differences in verbal behavior that are not only gender-rela ted, but also idiosyncratic. Speech Acts and Interactional Sociolinguistics Speech act theory stems from philosophy of language. It was initiated by J. Austin in How To Do Things With Words (1962). Austin distinguished constative utterances from the performative ones. Unlike the consta tives that simply provide information, the performatives create a world, in which a ce rtain action can be performed by the speaker or the hearer. The truth/falsity criterion is appl icable to constatives, because they describe world with words, but not to the performa tives, which create world with words. The theory was further developed by J. Searle in “Speech Acts” (1962) and subsequent work. Searle has defined speech acts more broadly as basic units of co mmunication. Central to the theory, as expounded by Searle, is the prin ciple of expressibility: whatever can be meant can be said, while the intention of an utterance can be deciphered by a hearer who

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15 has a sufficient linguistic competence. Speech ac ts provide information (words relate to world), impose directives on the hearer (wor ds create world, in which the hearer is expected to perform an action), or commit th e speaker to a certain action. The speech act taxonomy is based on these functions with a set of rules defining each class of speech acts. By applying the taxonomy of speech acts and the rules of defining individual speech event, Schiffrin (1994) showed that the speech act methodology is a powerful tool for analyzing multifunctional utterances. Questioning for example, elicits the addressee to provide information that creates a “preparato ry condition” for an action or a sequence of verbal responses committing the conversationalists to perform an action. As Austin (1962) has asserted, “it is always necessary that the circumstances in which the words are uttered should be in some way, or ways, a ppropriate, and it is very commonly necessary that either the speaker himself or other pers ons should also perform some other actions.” Austin viewed locution and illocution as abstractions only, st ating that “every genuine speech act is both,” thus, in a way, linki ng Speech Act theory to Interactional Sociolinguistics. However, Searle’s expres sibility principle presupposes that with a proper illocutionary force any intention can be made explicit. In his pioneering work on application of linguistic discourse analysis to literary discourse, Ohmann (1971) has claimed that Speec h Act theory does not apply to literary “quasi speech acts,” because literary speech ac ts lack the illocutiona ry force attached to spontaneous speech acts. Yet verbal exchanges of Le Morte Darthur often include performative and even constantive speech acts in which locution, the actual words used by the speaker, differs from illocution, the speaker’s intention behind the utterance, which to Austin (1962) constitutes a definition of illocutionary force In the following

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16 example a knight called Sir Benda leyne initiates a verbal ex change with a passing knight by a performative speech act in which the for ce of the utterance does not fully correspond to the literal meaning of its components. "Thau shalt nat passe this way, for other t hou shalt juste with me othir ellys be my presonere.” [You shall not pass this way, for either you shall joust with me or else be my prisoner.] Sir Bendaleyne seems to be offering his oppone nt (Sir Gareth of Orkney) a choice between jousting and becoming a prisoner; however the illocutionary force of his perfomative utterance is that of a challenge to a joust. It is perfectly clear to both the speaker and the hearer that the alterna tive – voluntarily beco ming a prisoner – is unacceptable and, moreover, offensive to any knight. Thus, or else be my prisoner is not a valid alternative, but more of an insu lt or a threat. The entire utterance is multifunctional as it contains a challenge a nd a provocation by way of insult and/or a threat. Only two lines of text describing the c ourse of the joust separate the above performative speech act from the constative speech act informing us that mortally wounded Sir Bendelayne “rode forth to his cast ell there beside, and there dyed” [rode to his castle and there died]. This constative is short and precis e; it is entirely unambiguous and there is no situation in which it can be misinterpreted. Nevert heless, in discourse there is scarcely an u tterance that is “just said” in a way of description without any implicit meaning behind it. A rapid transacti on from Bendelayne’s insolent challenge to the author’s brief descripti on of Bendelayne’s impending death may be Malory’s way of telling us that Bendelayne got what he deserved (Bendelayne insulted the other knight for no reason, challenged him to a fight and, subs equently, suffered a disastrous defeat).

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17 De Capua and Boxer (1999) describe a pa ttern of male inte ractional behavior, which is realized in insults, put-downs and one upmanship, as verbal dueling or jousting. This pattern is well pronounced in the text of Le Morte Darthur, where male characters often participate in verbal jous ting that transgresses into physical combat. Of course, it is usually the counter-heroes rather than the heroes th at initiate confronta tional behavior, as shown in the above example. Verbal jousting for the sake of jousting, or in other words, insulting a stranger with a sole purpose of creating a conf lict, is a concept entirely alien to the female characters of Le Morte Darthur The women often seek to recommend themselves to others, impress each other favorably and achieve solidarity through discourse (on solidarity in discourse see Wolfson, 1988, Coates, 1993, Boxer, 2002). Isode, the Queen of Ireland, wishes to “recommaunde” herself “into quene Gwenyvere” and introduces herself to Guinevere with the following words, (2) “There be within this l onde but four lovers, and that is sir Lancelot and dame Gwenyver, and sir Trystrames and quene Isode”(267). [There are within this land but four lo vers and that is sir Lancelot and dame Guinevere and Trystram and quene Isode]. From the point of view of Speech Act theory, Isode’s constantive utterance fails the truth criterion (because there are bound to be mo re than four lovers in the land). Yet it is not Isode’s purpose to inform Guinevere of ho w many lovers are ther e; her utterance has a symbolic meaning as a component of socializing behavior. Isode wishes to demonstrate her solidarity with Guinevere, the Queen of England by pointing out the similarity of their situation: both queens are in love w ith their knights. But as far as power is concerned, the two queens are not on equal term s. Isode renounced her royal status when she left her husband King Mark for Trystram, and now she finds herself in a powerless

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18 situation, which makes her turn to powerful allies. Isode seeks Guinevere’s acceptance and approval by showing her own acceptance and approval of the English Queen. In that sense, Isode’s message may also be considered a positive politeness strategy, a concept described by Brown and Levinson (1989) as a desire to project a positiveself-image and to be treated as a member of an “in-group.” In this case, the speaker’s own words define the desired in -group as the group of four lovers of high social status, in which the speaker wishes to be included. Thus, Isode’s uttera nce (2) exemplifies verbal behavior the meaning of which can only be decoded through its contextualization. Contextualization of discourse is the focal point of Interactional Sociolinguistics initiated by John Gumperz’s work on convers ational inference as a situated (contextbound) process and by Goffman’s analysis of di scourse as a form of social interaction (Goffman, 1967 and subsequent work cited in Schiffrin, 1994; Ja worski and Coupland, 1999; Boxer, 2002). This approach draws from anthropology and sociology, emphasizing the roles of prosodic and paralinguistic contextualization cues (Gumperz, 1977). Speech Act Theory also recognizes indirect speech acts (as those in which form does not match the intention), but does not fully account for symbolic value of speech. It considers situational cues (Ibid.) as marginal to what is said. In contrast, Interactional Sociolinguistics deals primarily with these aspects of verbal communication. Insofar as any speech act intention is modified in re spect to anticipated behavior of other participants, all speech acts are multifunctional and are to a certain degree indirect. Their multiple meanings are revealed by relating them to a linguistic system of social interaction. The interpersonal conventions, ambiguity, avoidance devices, face saving and

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19 risk taking aspects of linguistic behavi or are the means by which the discourse participants are aligned (or realigned) according to their roles in defining the conversational framework and accepting it. Fo r instance, interrogative form can be employed in directives, reminders, in nagging, and in other speech acts widely different from information requests (Boxer, 2002). Th e differentiation of meaning depends on contextualization cues: the non-ve rbal signals that are intuitively decoded, as well as the verbal signals, such as the de tails of intonation, and also le xical and syntactic choices. Errors in decoding of the meaning lead to miscommunication as in the exchange between King Arthur and Sir Lancelot, which concerns the undiscovered identity of a knight in disguise. Arthur guesses that Lancelot knows who the myster y knight is, when Lancelot remarks: “Have ye no mervayle, for ye shall ryght well know that he is com of full noble bloode—“(200) [Do not be surprised, for you shall right well know he is of noble blood]. Arthur misreads the contex tualization cues of the above remark and expects Lancelot to reveal the identity of the knight. But Lancelot is bound to keep the secret and only wishes to state that soon the knight’s id entity will be revealed to Arthur by the knight himself. In further construction of the dialogue between Arthur and Lancelot, the two speakers participate in “face work,” i.e. the participants desire to save one’s own face or the face of the others and to avoid comm itting a “face threatening act” (Goffman, 1967; Brown and Levinson 1987). Face work is often realized thro ugh the language of hint, innuendo and ambiguities, which gives the partic ipants a choice “to act as if they have not received the message containe d in a hint” (Goffman, 1967).

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20 (3) “Hit semyth by you,” seyde kynge Arthur e, “that ye know his name and frome whens he com” [It seems by you, said King Arthur that you know his name and from where he came]. “I sippose I do so, seyde sir Launcelot, “or ellys I wold e not have yeffyn hym the hyghe Order of Knyghthode, but he gaff me suche charge th at I woll never discover hym—“ [I suppose I do so, said sir Lancelot, or else I would not have given him the high Order of Knighthood, but he gave me such a charge that I will ne ver discover him]. (210) Arthur’s statement “It seems by you that you know his name” is not interrogative by form, yet it contains 1) an implicit que stion, which would be analogous to “do you know his name?), 2) a request for information “what is his name?” and, considering that Arthur’s royal status gives him power over his interlocutor of lesser social status– 3) a directive “tell me his name.” There is also something of an embedded reproach “you know his name but you would not tell me.” In hi s reply Lancelot addresses all aspects of Arthur’s multifunctional utterance. “I suppose I do so,” answers the question “do you know his name,” which was implie d but never actually asked. “Or else I would not have given him a High orde r of Knighthood” is a clarification of “I suppose I do so.” What follows next “but he gave me charge not to discover him” diverts Arthur’s implicit directive (3). A direct refusal to satisfy Ar thur’s curiosity would have constituted a facethreatening act. Therefore, Lancel ot is using an oblique face-s aving form of denial. In his turn, Arthur chooses to withdraw his inquiries before a potential threat to Lancelot’s face occurs. Both interlocutors are performing an avoidance ritual (Ibid.) in which a great deal of face-saving work is involved. Refusals ar e not likely to be considered a solidarityestablishing speech behavior, yet they “can serv e to affirm or reaffirm a relationship” (Boxer, 2002, p.52, see also Beebe, et al., 1985). In this case, King Arthur and Lancelot

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21 are friends both of whom possess an extremel y high, yet not entirely equal, social status. An imbalance of status create s a delicate situation in which it is easy for one speaker to cross the boundaries by imposi ng on the other. Their friendship largely depends on the recognition of each other’s face needs, which is why Arthur takes no advantage of his own more powerful status but chooses an indi rect form of questioning over an explicit directive. Thus, even though refusal is a speech act that generally carries a negative semantic label (Ervin-Tripp, S. 1976, Beebe, et al., 1985, Boxer, 2002), a carefully worded refusal reaffirms Lancelot’s friendship with Arthur. Notice also the informal nature of the conversation: Arthur addresses Lancelot simply as “you” and Lancelot uses no elabor ate forms of address such as ‘My Lord” or Fair Sire” that were commonly used when addressing the King. Coulthard (1985) notes that in Shakespearean time, 16th century, “you” was the form of address of equals, while “thou” was usually reserved for a ddressing a person of inferior st atus. It is evident that in Malory’s time, a century before Shakespear e, the distinction between the two pronouns has already acquired its social significance. Lancelot forgoes the formalities when addressing the King, while Arthur displays the social equality of th e two of them by his choice of “you.” Queen Guinevere, in a dialogue with he r lover Lancelot, begins her speech by addressing Lancelot as you ( ye), thus treating him as equal in status, as in “but ever ye ar oute of thys courte” [you are always away from this cour t]. Yet as the conversation progresses she switches to calling him thou This alteration is not accidental; in the course of the conversation the Queen becomes angry with Lancelot, and wishes to display the social distance between herself and her knight.

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22 (4) “Sir Launcelot, now I well understonde that thou arte a false, recrayed knight and a comon lechourere, and lovyste a nd holdiste othir ladies and of me thou haste dysdayne and scorne. For wyte thou well, now I undirstonde thy falsehede I shall never love the [thee] more, and loke thou be never so hardy to com in my syght. And ryght here I dyscharge thee thys courte, that thou never com within hit, and I forfende thee my felyship, and uppon payne of thy hede that thou see me nevermore!” (612) [Sir Lancelot, now I understand that thou art a false knight, who loves and holds other ladies. Now I understand you r falsehood I shall never love thee again, do not come in my sight. I discharge thee from this court, neve r come within it, and upon pain of thy head thou see me never more]. Guinevere consistently uses “thou” to empha size the superiority of her royal status by addressing Lancelot as infe rior. Moreover, there are no f ace-saving strategies in the Queen’s speech, which is extremely direct a nd face threatening to Lancelot. He produces no reply and, although not at fault, makes no atte mpt to explain himself. The direct nature of the interaction (4) is in sharp contrast wi th Arthur’s dialogue w ith Lancelot (3) where the participants manage to a void confrontation by speaking the language of innuendo Yet in both examples the participants use no cooperative strategies to sustain the conversation that ends abruptly, while the ma tter is left unresolved. The maintenance of conversation is the point of inte rest of Conversational Analysis discussed in the next part of the chapter, where it is compared to the ethnographic approach to discourse. Ethnography of Communication and Conversational Analysis The methodology of ethnographic discour se analysis aims to discover how communicative competence (part of it acco mplished through language) is embedded in culture, our most comprehensive communi cation system. The analytic grid for Ethnography of Communication founded by Dell Hymes (1962) is known as SPEAKING, which is an abbreviation for setting, participants, ends (goals), act sequence, key, instrumentalities (forms of speech a nd non-verbal accessories), norms (of social

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23 interaction), and genre. These items of et hnographic discourse anal ysis are perceived as categories existing prior to the beginning of discourse and, subsequently, reflected in the text of discourse (Schiffrin, 1994). In contrast, the approach known as Conve rsational Analysis (CA) does not accept anything as pre-existing categories ( being there before the beginni ng of discourse), focusing instead on organization of the talk as a creative process in which the context emerges from the text (Schegloff and Sax, 1969). CA reflects on subtle conversational features that bear on unfolding of the ta lk, while the participants’ competence is manifested in the managing of the pro cess itself. CA methodology highlights the problem-solving activity related to opening, sustaining (turn-taking, topic change/repair) and closing of discourse. From a CA point of view the so ciolinguistic variables that existed before the conversation has begun, such as extralinguistic fact ors, are irrelevant. Although CA and Ethnography of Communi cation are commonly presented as alternative approaches to discourse, they may not be mutually exclusive (Schiffrin, 1994; Boxer, 2002). The techniques of opening and cl osing formulas, turn-taking, construction of adjacency pairs revealed by CA are of considerable importance as elements of communicative competence grounded in cultural environment. In Le Morte Darthur the conversation openings, for instances, are often inquiries, such as (4): “What is his name,” seyde sir Tris tram, “and of what bloode he come?” [What is his name and of what blood he came?]. The inquiries may also contain a reprove (6): “What, sir, know ye nat me?” [What, sir, don’t you know me?],

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24 or they may constitute an insult or provocation (7): “A, sir Beawmaynes! Where is thy corrayge becom?” [Ah, sir Beuwmaynes! What ha ppened to your courage?]. Forms of address used in an opening of conversation depend on the extent of politeness the speakers wish to express towards each other. In a mixed gender conversation, polite forms of a ddress are the ones combined w ith a compliment, as in the following exchange (8): “Fayre damesel’, seyde sir la ncelot, ‘know ye in this contrey ony adventures nere hande?” [Fair damsel, said sir Lancelot, know you in this country any adventures in hand?]. A complimenting epithet “fair” added to a form of address “ damsel” or “madam,” is a common formula for addressing women in a mixed gender interaction. Men use “fair” when addressing each ot her as well, as in “Fayre Sy re,” “Fayre brother” (when talking to a brother), or ev en “Fayre fellow” (when ta lking to a commoner, not a nobleman). Women also use this formula (f ayre Madame, fayre sir or fayre knight); however they seem to use the compliment “fair” less frequently in mixed gender exchanges. In a conversati on between an unnamed woman and Lancelot – where nearly each conversational turn begins with a form of address by the convention of the time – forms of address used throughout the conversation form a peculiar pattern. (9) “ Sir she seyde, …but and ye woll be ruled by me I shall helpe you out of this dystresse, and ye shall have no shame nor velony, so that ye wol my promise. Fayre damesel seyde sir Lancelot, I grante ye ; but sore I am of thes quenys crauftis aferde, for they destroyed many a good knight. Sir that is soth, they here of you and they woll have your love. And sir, they sey youre name is sir Launcelot du Lake, th e floure of knyghts and they be passyng wroth with you that ye have refused hem. But, sir and you wolde promise me to

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25 helpe my fadir that hath made a turnem ente betwyxt hym and the kynge of North Galys… I shall delyver you. Now, fayre damesel telle me your fadirs name, and than shall I gyff you an answer. Sir Knyght my fadyrs name is kynge Bagdemagus that was foule rebuked at the last turnemente. I knowe your fadir well, seyde sir La uncelot, for a noble kyng and a good knyght, and by the fayth of my body, your fadir sha ll have my sercyse, and you both at that. Sir gramercy, and tomorne loke ye be redy betymys and I shall delyver you…. Damesel I shall nat fayle, by the grace of God. (152). [ Sir I shall help you out of this di stress if you make me a promise. Fair damsel I grant you, but I am afraid of these queens’ crafts, for they destroyed many good knights. Sir, that is so. They heard of you a nd they would have your love. And sir they say your name is sir Lancelot of the Lake, the flower of knights and they would be very angry because you refused them. But sir, if you promise me to he lp my father at the tournament between him and the king of North Galis… I shall deliver you out of prison. Now, fair damsel tell me your father’s name, and then I shall give you an answer. Sir Knight my father’s name is king Bagdemagu s who lost at the last tournament. I know your father well, said sir Lancel ot, he is a noble king and a good knight, and by the faith of my body, your father shall have my service, and you both at that. Sir thank you, and tomorrow be re ady and I shall deliver you…. Damsel I shall not fail, by the grace of God]. The forms of address in the above dialogue are the following: Damsel: SirLancelot: Fayre dameselDamsel: SirSir –SirLancelot: Fayre damselDamsel: Sir knight-sir-

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26 Lancelot: DameselThe damsel does not use the epithet “fair, ” though the nature of her talk with Lancelot is quite friendly. Lancel ot is, at first, consistent in adding ‘fair” to the form of address, but in the closing of the conversation he abandons the compliment part of the formula and simply addresses his female interl ocutor as “damsel.” In this case the damsel is in a more powerful position than Lancelot because he is imprisoned (by the “queens’ crafts”), while the damsel has the power to release him. Even though the damsel and Lancelot begin the conversation as strangers, during the course of the exchange they find common ground for interaction and develop a relational identity (Boxer, 2002) which facilitates the process of building solidarity. The rappor t between the two speakers develops with every conversational turn. Th ey express their mutual dislike of the villainous queens, as well as their good opi nion of the damsel’s father “a noble kyng and a good knyght” and, finally, they agree on helping each other. The damsel asks the knight only to help her father, but sir Lancelot demonstrates his good will towards the damsel by offering to be of service to her as well as to her father, “your fadir shall have my sercyse, and you both at that.“ The bonding of Lancelot with the damsel may be reflected in the change of Lancelot’s form of address: an inadvertent adjustment to the speech of the interlocutor, known as convergence (Giles and Robinson, 1989). According to the accommodation theory (Ibid.) the participants may converge with each other during their interaction by altering their speech behavior and adopting the speech behavior of the interlocutor, as in the case of the damsel and Lancelot. In the analysis of the abov e conversation I combined the techniques of CA with the ethnography of communication c oncepts including the cultur al norms for addressing an interlocutor.

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27 Critical Discourse Analysis Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) sees langu age as an instrument of various social practices (ideological, political racist or sexist). Insofa r as unequal power relations established in various spheres of social life are reproduced in discourse, CDA addresses the instances of discursive display of power The approach is si milar to the Ethnography of Communication, but the focus of CDA is on th e ideological or political content of the text (Foucault, 1971, 1979; W odak, 1992; Van Dijk, 1993). The sociolinguistic characteristics of the pa rticipants (their gender, social status, etc.), as well as the setting and cultura l norms of behavior are relevant to the understanding of the next extract from Le Morte Darthur. In addition, certain ideological standpoints of the author emerge in the analys is of the next example, (9). Prince Gareth of Orkeney in disguise is mistaken for a kitchen servant by his traveling companion Dame Linet. When a knight (their host) is a bout to seat the two tr avelers at the dining table, Linet objects to sitting next to Gareth: (9)“Fy, fy’, than seyde she, sir knyght, ye ar uncurtayse to sette a kychyn page afore me“ (183). [Fie, fie, sir knight, you are uncourteous to seat a kitchen servant in front of me]. Linet accuses the host of being uncourteous to her and objects to what she perceives as a serious violati on of social conventions. In medieval society the seating arrangement at a dining table was a status-reinforcing procedure. A 14th Century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight provides a detailed account of the order and place that each knight occupied at King Arthur’s dinni ng table. The Round Table is not mentioned in the poem, whereas in Le Morte Darthur it plays an important role as a symbol of equality. For the Arthurian knights in the poe m their place at the dining table corresponds to their ranking at the royal court. According to the same custom, Dame Linet insists on

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28 her high status being observed by the proper se ating at dinner. The story of Linet and Gareth may have appeared in Malory’s sources as an episode in the genre of Amour Courtois (courtly love), by the rules of whic h a chivalric lover endures insults and humiliation from his lady to prove his l ove for her. However, Malory, an obvious proponent of the Round Table concept, turned th e story into a social satire in which he mocks certain medieval customs, such as the seating ceremony – a display of social inequality. It is not clear if Malory’s patronage of the Round Table equality extended to the ideas of social equality, because his hero Gareth in not an actual servant but a knight of royal lineage, King Arthur’s own nephew. Notably, Malo ry must have been on good terms with the working classes, when he was imprisoned his bail was paid by a London tailor and a saddler (from the records in Hicks, 1928) 3. In another exchange from the same epis ode, Linet and Gareth meet a knight in black armor, who insults Gareth the moment Linet points to the low social class of the latter (10). “Damsell, have ye brought this knight from the courte of kynge Arthure to be your champion?” “Nay, fayre knyght, this is but a kitche n knave that was fedde in kyn Arthurs kychyn for almys.” Than sayde the knight, ‘Why commyth he in such aray? For hit is shame that he beryth you company.” [Damsel, have you brought this knight fr om the court of King Arthur to be your champion? No, fair knight, this is but a kitchen knave that was fed in King Arthur’s kitchen. Than said the knight, why comes he in such array? For it is shame that he bears you company.]

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29 Linet humiliates Gareth by calling him “k itchen knave,” while the Black Knight exhibits an equal amount of prejudice towa rds the lower classes by his words, “It is shame that he [Gareth] bears you company.” Though, in fact, Linet and the knight merely follow the conventions of the mediev al society to which they belong. Conclusion In the above analysis I attempted to show to what extent various approaches of discourse analysis can be applied to the study of the discourses of Le Morte Darthur. Speech Act theory does not account for the symbolic value of speech, which presents the same difficulties for the analysis of the lite rary discourses as it doe s for the analysis of spontaneous speech. Interactional Sociolingui stics studies the meaning created in the process of interaction (Thomas, 1995), which is relevant to the interactions of Le Morte Darthur. However, certain non-ve rbal contextualization clues, such as the details of intonation and tempo of speech are unavailabl e in this case. Conve rsational Analysis takes no account of the sociolinguistic variable s, which are in a case of a historical novel inseparable from the content of the conversat ions. Nonetheless, CA can be successfully applied in combination with Ethnography of Communication, the la tter approach being, perhaps, the most equipped for the analysis of the literary te xt of histori cal significance. The verbal interactions in Malory are deeply grounded in sociocultu ral context of a wide historic timeframe from the Dark Ages to the late medieval era. Critical Discourse Analysis can only be applied with that timefr ame in view. For instan ce, the dist ribution of power in the Middle Ages corresponded to the social stratification by class; thus it would unrealistic to expect the literar y discourses of that time peri od to reflect any different model of society. As asserted by Faircl ough and Wodak (1997) “utterances are only meaningful if we consider their use in a specific situation, if we understand the

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30 underlying conventions and rules, if we recognize the embeddi ng in a certain culture and ideology, and most importantly, if we know what the discourse relates to in the past.” Taken out of context, the episode of Le Morte Darthur in which Lancelot is wounded by a huntress, is interpreted (LaFarge 1992; McInerney, 1996) as an allegorical conflict, signifying Lancelot’s and the author’s fear and hatred of women, combined with suppression of femininity on the author’s part (see more on the Huntress in Chapter 5). Yet such view of female/male relationships in Le Morte Darthur is based on a one-page scene of Malory’s work, while completely disregarding hundreds of pages upon which the relationships of the prin cipal characters, such as Guinevere and Isode, are traced through their interactions with male characters. That is not to say that the Huntress episode is entirely unimportant, but in order to draw patterns of gender roles in Malory, it hardly suffices to take just one example of mixed-gender interaction into consideration. It is perhaps not incidental that Malory himself, in his postscript to Le Morte Darthur, urged his audience to read the book “f rom the begynnynyng to the endynge” [from the beginning to the end], as if pr edicting that passages of his book taken out of context could be severely misinterpreted. Notes 1. The epigraph translates: Then the Queen said, ‘I will take with me such knights as I like best.’ ‘Do as you wish’, said King Arthur. 2. In addition to the story of Bewmaynes (Sir Gareth), there is a somewhat similar tale of a young nobleman who keeps his identity a secret and consents to be called Le Cote Male Tayle (the ill-shapen coat). Lancelot and Trystram also frequently disguise themselves for diverse reasons but typically to prevent their fame from preceding them at jousts. 3. In Malory’s time it was uncommon for a nobl eman to find such devoted friends in the lower classes. If Malory harbored any ideas of social equality, such ideas would have certainly been strongly oppos ed by the ruling classes.

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31 CHAPTER 3 GENDER AND LANGUAGE IN LE MORTE DARTHUR “I suppose that we were sente for that I shold be dishonoured. Wherefor, husband, I counceille yow that we departe from hens sodenly….” Le Morte Darthur Introduction This chapter focuses on the concepts of power and gender differences in language and provides a sociolinguistic an alysis of the speech of fema le characters in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur In particular, the study exam ines to what extent the discourses of Malory’s heroines fall into th e category of powerful or powerless speaking style. It also looks into the way women’s sp eech is received by th eir interlocutors in Le Morte Darthur The historic events of Malory’s lifetime are closely associated with two remarkable women, Joan of Arc and Margaret of An jou, who became the Queen of England and reigned during the War of the Roses1. Though Malory wrote about much earlier times, the intrigues and battles of the War of the Roses transpire through the pages of Le Morte Darthur. In a similar way, Malory’s unconventional and controvers ial portrayal of female characters may reflect the powerful presence of the above mentioned historic heroines of Malory’s time. Many scholars see Le Morte Darthur as a “masculinist work” (Armstong, 2003). Edwards (1996) asserts that Malory failed “t o treat the feminine” content of his French sources (see discussion on sources in Chapte r 4). Noguchi (1981) notes that women of Le

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32 Morte Darthur sound manly and defiant. The speech style of both female and male characters is described as terse, dign ified and restrained (McCarthy, 1988). These features of speech are perceived as mascul ine, which allows for the common assumption that Malory disregarded the feminine way of speaking. LaFarge (1992) speaks of the “repressed femininity” in Le Morte, and de scribes Malory’s text as “something of a rearguard action in defense of the wholen ess, the public, the masculine” (1992:18). However, in modern studies on Gender and Language the question of what constitutes women’s speech as opposed to men’ s speech is an issue of continuous debate. Robin Lakoff in her pioneering work “Langua ge and Woman’s Place” (1975) suggested that man’s language is forceful, assertive a nd direct, while woman’s way of speaking is unassertive, immature, less direct and more polite. Subsequent studies, (such as O’Barr and Atkins, 1980) argued that th e true distinction lies in th e distribution of power, and it is a matter of powerless vs. powerful language rather than women’s or men’s language (on power and gender issue in discours e also see Bergvall, 1996, Boxer, 2002). Furthermore, Freed (1992) and Troemel-Ploetz (1994) have asserted that the view of “ cultural differences” (Maltz and Borker, 1982, Tannen, 1990) in mixed-gender conversations disregards th e issue of patriarchy. The cultural differences point of view has been disputed by many feminist linguists, who assert that society subjects women to subordinate roles, which aff ects their use of language. Fishman (1983) notes that women who ta ke control of conversation are often “derided and doubt is cast on their femininit y.” They are often considered “abnormal” and terms like “castrating bitch,” and “witch” may be used to identify them (Fishman, 1983: 99).

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33 When I compare the findings of mode rn gender studies like Fishman’s to references from medieval texts, a strong si milarity emerges revealing a consistency in attitudes to women in powerful roles. M eekness and obedience were encouraged in women of Middle Ages (Bornstein, 1978). Wome n were expected to speak the powerless language and act accordingly. Deeply rooted stereotypes of genderappropriate behavior addressed by modern scholars of Gender Studies are often seen in their extreme form in medieval texts. Words like “abominable,” “w itch” and “manly” were used by medieval historians (Hall, 1548) to desc ribe Joan of Arc. The following reference to Joan from Holinshed (1577: 134) condemns her “man-like” behavior, “…shamefullie rejecting hir sex, abomin ablie in acts and apparell, to have counterfeit mankind, and to be an instru ment of witchcraft and sorcerie.” Queen Margaret, who possessed strong leader ship skills, was also compared to a man, “This woman was of stomack and courag e more like a man than a woman” (Hall, 1548: 68). It is clear that having cour age or “haute stomack” (having guts, as we would say now) was considered a man’s priority. Another quote from Hall describes the uncommon personality of Queen Margaret, and also reveals a strong prejudi ce against women of unyielding temper, “ The Queen was a woman of great wit and yet of no great wit, of haute stomack, desirous of glory, covetous of honor and of reason, policy, council, and other gifts and talents of nature belonging to a man. But yet she had one point of ev ery woman: for often when she was vehement and fully bent in ma tter, she was suddenly like a wethercock, mutable, and turning” (79).

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34 The heroines of Le Morte Darthur are likewise controvers ial but no judgement is passed upon them. Malory assigned complex and controversial roles to his female heroines, whose speech is often perceived as masculine. Conventional gender roles also exist in Le Morte but the conventions ar e challenged by the female characters. I assert that Malory empowered the speech of the fe male characters, and it is their uncommonly powerful speaking style that is at times mi staken for the suppressed femininity. As Bergvall (1996) states, women who display asse rtive and forceful speech behavior, by a notion of gender dichotomy, would be consider ed “less feminine, and thus, aberrant or deviant” (1996:192). The Oath that the Knights of the Round Ta ble take before entering into the Order states that the knights are “allwayes to do ladies, damsels and jantilwomen, and widowes socour.” This (Malory’s) version of the Oa th, notably different from the Oath of the sources, is often seen as a representati on of Malory’s own view on gender roles. However, the meaning of the Oath, as well as Malory’s conception of gender roles that the Oath possibly entails, has received disparate interpretations. According to Armstong (2003), the word always in the Oath implies that ladies are always in need of knight’s succor, which makes women of Le Morte Darthur helpless and vulnerable, and reinforces the masculinity of the knights. Armstrong’s vi ew of polarized gender roles in Malory, in particular the ultimate femininity of wo men, somewhat contradicts the previously mentioned opinions stating that female characters of Le Morte Darthur appear manly and defiant and speak the way men do. Yet, this study challenges both Armstrong’s view of ultimately feminine women in Le Morte Darthur as well as the opposite view that sees Malory’s heroines as perversely

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35 masculine (discussed above). In fact, in his treatment of the Oath, Sir Thomas Malory engages in direct dispute with his sources In the sources, th e protection of the Church is the core purpose of Knighthood. Sir Thomas radically changes the Oath, making the protection of women the main reason for joining the Or der. As I see it, the emphasis of the oath is on the concept of women whereas always is used to enhance the permanent nature of the Oath, rather than the condition of women. The present analysis leads to the conclusi on that female personages in Malory are neither deprived of femininity, nor are they ‘damsels in distress’. They are strong women struggling against the conventionally power less position assigned to them by their gender. The combination of powerful and powerless speaking styles of women in Le Morte Darthur occurs in various types of speech be havior. This chapter analyzes the verbal behavior of Malory’s heroines in situ ations of conflicts, confrontations, apologies, advice-giving, nagging, and arguing. The following section, focusing on conflic t discourse, is divided into two subsections: Defensive Language and Confrontation. Conflict Discourse Defensive Language One of the favorite topics of medieval li terature is a helpless damsel in distress rescued by a chivalric knight (Bruce, 1958). The female char acters in Malory, however, are capable of defending themselves. Their speech disarms their opponents, resolves conflicts and dismisses potentially dangerous animosities. At the same time, every one of Malory’s heroines (Igrayne, Isode and Guinevere) has her own distinct style of resolving potential or actual conflicts.

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36 A better understanding of the discourse of conflict comes from the field of psycholinguistic research. A study of conflicts between pe ople of diverse cultural backgrounds has revealed eight styles of c onflict management: dominating, integrating, compromising, avoiding, obliging, emotional, neglecting and “third party help” (TingToomey et al., 2000; Hamford, 2003). A choice of one or another style depends on such psychological variables as independent ve rsus interdependent behavior and the interrelated face concerns, incl uding the concerns of self-f ace, other-face and mutual face (Goffman, 1967). It is found by Hamford (2003) that person s with a tendency to act independently prefer direct, as well as in tegrating conflict management, whereas those tending towards interdependent be havior are inclined to use an indirect style in addition to integrating and compromising. Face c oncerns are most important for the interdependent behavior category. In particul ar, a concern for others face may result in conflict avoidance, while the concern for self face is related to integrating and compromising. These factors play their role s in conflicts the participants of which are Malory’s leading female characters: Igrayne, Isode a nd Guinevere. The narrator’s voice hardly describes the personalities of these heroines directly (with few exceptions, such as a “little mention” about Guinevere that she was a “true lover” (609). Their characters emerge through sequences of speech events but perhaps most expressively, through speech behavior in the events of conflict a nd confrontation. For example, Igrayne and her husband are invited to King Uther’s court, when Igrayne uncovers the true purpose behind that invitation: “I suppose that we were sente for that I shold be dishonoured. Wherfor, husband, I conceille yow that we departe from hens sodenly” (3).

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37 [I suppose that we were sent for that I should be dis honored. Therefore, husband, I council you that we depart from here suddenly]. In terms of conflict managing, Igrayne’s words may be described as the conflict avoidance style, which is characteristic of a person with a strong tendency to act interdependently. In the following example, Queen Igrayne, King Arthur’s mother, is true to her conflict avoidance style when she has to defend herself against unjust accusations. When Igrayne, comes to court for the first time, Arthur wonders why his mother abandoned him in his infancy and never came fo rth to reveal his true lineage. Knight Ulphuns accuses Igrayne of being treacherous and dishonest; her reac tion is as follows, “I am a woman and may nat fyght; but rath er than I shoulde be dishonoured, there wolde [would] som man take my quarell. But’, thus she seyde, ‘Merlion knowith well, and ye, sir Ulphuns, how king Uther com to me into the castle of Tyntagyl in the likeness of my lorde that was dede thre e oweres [hours] tofore, and there begate a chylde that night uppon me... And I sa w the chylde never aftir, nothir wote [knew] nat what ys hys name; fo r I knew hym never yette.”(31) Igrayne’s first utterance, “I am a wo man and may nat fyght,” emphasizes her compliance with the era’s expectations of fema le weakness. However, not all heroines of Le Morte Darthur would agree with Igra yne’s statement (that women may not fight). For instance, Isode’s mother, who disliked Trystram at the sight of him “gryped that swerde in hir honde fersely [gripped the sword fiercel y], and with all hir myght she ran streyght upon Trystram” (238). This warlike mother is very different from Arthur’s mother, Igrayne. The difference can be explained by Igrayne’s powerless position in life. King Uthur, Arthur’s father, makes Igrayne his wife after killing her husband, and gives Igrayne’s infant son Arthur to Merlin. Yet Ig rayne endures it all wi th honor and dignity, which indicates a considerable strength of character.

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38 In her next utterance, “but rather than I fhold be difhonoured,” the use of the word dishonour is noteworthy, as it signifies the beginning of powerful discourse. The conception of honor is usually applied differently to wo men and men. Woman’s honor is associated with chastity, while men’s honor has to do with character. In the same way, to dishonor a woman implies a sexu al assault, but man’s dishonor is damage to his image. For instance, in Shakespeare’s Henry VI Bedford says, ‘Lord Talbot do not so dishonour me’, when Talbot hints the former is too old to fight. In Malory, Launcelot exclaims, “What have I done? For now I am dishonoured ,” as he finds hims elf fighting his best friend. In the beginning of Le Morte Darthur Igrayne is, in fact, in danger of rape, and back then she says, “I suppose that we were sente for that I shold be dishonoured .” But in the episode with Arthur mentioned above, Igrayne speaks of dishonor in a “masculine” sense: she is in no sexual danger but she is unjustly accused. Thus, the latter use of the word dishonour signals a turning point in Igrayne’s speech from powerless style of speaking to powerful language. Yet her plead for a knight to fight for her brings her back to the powerle ss role of a damsel in distress. After what seems like a short pause, where the author’s words are inserted, Irgayne resumes powerful speech: she is assertive, direct, inform ative, and she defends herself so well that an assistance of a knight is no l onger needed – the case is closed. Of all Malory’s heroines, Igrayne, the women of the older generation in Le Morte Darthur seems closest to the stereotype of w eak women victimized by powerful men and obedient to their will. Yet her verbal behavior in a situati on of a conflict gives evidence of a complex personality, and a strong capacity for resolving conflicts. Interestingly, Igrayne manages to defend herself without o ffending anyone or assigning a direct blame

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39 to anyone, which shows concern for the others face – a distinct characteristic of a conflict avoidance style. Conflict discourse Confrontation As mentioned in the previous section, studies on conflict (Ting-Toomey et al. 2000; Hamford, 2003) distinguish several distinct styles of conflict management, which are interrelated with other beha vioral characteristics, su ch as dependant/independent behavior. In the following example of conflict discourse in Le Morte Darthur a confrontation occurs when Queen Guinevere, the wife of Ki ng Arthur, is attacked by the army of Prince Mellyagaunt, who claims to be in love with the Queen. At the time of the attack the Queen is “on Mayinge” (meaning she is taking pa rt in May festivities), while the knights that accompany her are unarmed and, therefor e, unprepared for the defense. The Queen takes it upon herself to manage the unavoidable conflict. Guinevere’s style of conflict managing, rema rkably distinct from that of Queen Igrayne’s, can perhaps be described as the direct conflict managing style. This is a dominating, forceful and emotional style, character istic of a person with highly independent nature. It is indicative of Guinevere’s tendency to act independently that neither her husband, King Arthur, nor any other principl e male character, but the Queen herself organizes and manages the festivities. Guinev ere’s desire to stay in charge is in accordance with her dominating conflict managing style. Even though, in this case, the Queen finds herself in a powerless position, she manages to regain her power by means of powerful discourse.

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40 Thus, when the attack occurs, Guinevere in stantly decides to c onfront Mellyagaunt, “Traytoure knight,” seyd Gwenyver, “what caste thou to do? Wolt thou shame thyselff?…Thou shamyst all knighthood and thyselffe and me. And I lat the wyte [I let thee know] thou shalt never shame me, for I had levir ku t myne owne throte in twayne [rather cut my own throat] rather than thou sholde dishonoure me!” (650). The Queen begins her speech by accusi ng Mellyagaunt of treason and uses no polite forms of address or any other strategies that would soften the impact of her speech. Her language is strong and assertive. She batters her attacker with questions and accusations: her utterance “ Wolt thou shame thyselff? “ is an accusation in a form of a question. Yet, as if feeling th at the question form is not direct and assertive enough and might lessen the power of her utterance, she rephrases the same accusation, which is now in a form of a statement, “ Thou shamyst all knighthood and thyselffe and me.” Mellyagaunt, enraged by her powerful langua ge (perhaps he expects her to act more like a helpless damsel in distress), retorts “ I have loved you many a yere, and never as now cowde [ could] I gete you at such avayle [get you at such disadvantage ]. And therefore I woll take you as I fynde you [I will take you as I find you] ” and proceeds with the attack. The Queen decides to negotiate, “Sir Mellyagaunt, sle nat [slay not] my noble knights and I woll go with thee upon thys covenaunce [I will go with you upon this condition] that thou save them and suffir hem no more to be hurte, wyth this th at they be lad [led] with me wheresomever thou ledyst me…[ wherever you lead me]” (651). Here Guinevere uses a more polite form of address, but her language is still powerful. She makes it clear that she negotiate s not because of weakness, but in order to save her knights from being killed, “ sle nat [ slay not] my noble knights.” By her strong language she manages to convince Mellyagaunt that she is in a powerful position: she is

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41 the one who dictates the conditions, “I woll go with thee upon thys covenaunce [condition].” Guinevere becomes a prisoner in Mellyagaunt’s castle; nonetheless, she manages to maintain her powerful status, as seen from her dialogue with Launcelot (below). When Launcelot comes to Mellyagaunt’s ca stle to fight for Guinevere, she once again refuses to play the part of damsel in distress. She greets La uncelot with a question, “ Sir Launcelot, why be ye so amoved [distraught]?” (655). Gu inevere’s question implies that she is in no distress, but it is Launcelot who is in distre ss. Moreover, it implies that there nothing to be distressed about. Launcel ot is bewildered by her question and its implications: he answers he r question with a question, “A! madame, why ask ye me that questyon?” Guinevere makes it clear that she has the situation under co ntrol, “all thynge ys put in myne honde [hand].” What Launcelot does not know is that just as he entered the castle, Mellyagaunt panicked and surrendered to Guinevere (“holy I put me in your grace”), begging her to “ rule ” Launcelot. Thus, Guinevere is now in a complete charge of the situation, having power to rule both her enemy and her defender. The Queen never admits to Launcelot that his arrival had any effect on the events because that would shift the power from her to Launcelot. When Launcelot tells her that his horse was killed by Mellyag aunt’s archers, Guinevere softens her speech and thanks him heartily, “Truly, seyde the quene, “ye say th routhe, but heartely I thanke you.” As for the enemy, Guinevere uses her power to th e uttermost. In the subsequent scene she urges Launcelot to fight Melly agaunt to the death. Queen Margaret too was merciless to her enemies in the War of the Roses. She had the rebellious Duke of York beheaded and

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42 his severed head brought to he r on a lance (see also Chapter 5, for the comparison of Guinevere’s speech/role in this episode and its sources). Thus, Guinevere’s powerful verbal beha vior, exhibited throughout the above confrontation sequences is consistent with her direct and dominating style of conflict management. Women’s Talk and Triviality Women’s talk has been often regarded as trivial (Coates, 1993). In medieval literature such a stereotype was frequently re inforced by the female characters who spoke in clichs and offered advice by quoting familiar proverbs. A woman in the Book of the Knight of LaTour advises her daughters against being amorous by citing a proverb of the time, “kysynge is nyghe parente and cosyn vnto the fowle faytte or dede” [kissing is a parent of foul deed]. Of course not every proverb is a clich, but the fact is that original comments are often reserved for the male char acters, while the female characters only get to repeat what was said by someone else or rec ite common sayings, which reinforces the stereotype of triviality of women’s speech. In Malory’s work female characters possess an uncommon wisdom; however, their good advice is often disregarded by their male interlocutors. Thus, the intellectually empowered women of Le Morte Darthur do not conform to the stereotype of being trivial, yet they have to struggl e against that stereotype. Advising discourse Isode’s Advice Advising discourse is an interactiv e communicative process (DeCapua and Dunham, 1993), as it involves a person givi ng advice and advice seeker. However, within the speech event of advice-giving, advice is of ten unsolicited, or in ot her words, proffered

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43 without having been asked for (Boatman, 1987; Banerjee and Carre ll, 1988). Even the studies on solicited advice (DeCapua and Duham, 1993: 521) show that more usual than specific requests for advice are vague requests, or implicit requests that are expected “to be evident from the description of the problem.” It may be inferred from these findings that problem-telling which can also be considered a form of indirect complaining, is a type of verbal behavior that prompts the offe ring of advice. But it is not always the case, as studies reveal evidence of distinct gender differences (Boxer, 1993), as well as differences related to social distance (Wolfs on, 1988) in responses to troubles-telling and indirect complaining. Boxer’s (1993) study indi cates that women are far less likely than men to respond to an indirect complaint with advice. In the example below, Malory’s heroine Qu een Isode offers advice to her lover Sir Trystram in response to his indirect complain t, though it is clear from the context of the exchange that her behavior is more of an exception than the rule. The conversation between Isode and Trystram occurs when the latter comes back from the tournament and notices that something is wrong with Isode. “Madame, for what cause make ye us such chere? We have bene sore travayled all this day. [had a difficult day]” “Myne owne lorde, seyde Le Beall Isode, For Goddys sake, be ye nat displeased wyth me, for I may none othirwyse [otherwi se] do. I sawe thys day how ye were betrayed and nyghe brought unto youre dethe…[nearly br ought to your death] And therefore, sir, how sholde I suffir in your e presence suche a felonne and traytoure as ys sir Palomydes? [how should I tolerate in your presence such a felon and traitor as sir Palomydes?]” (460). Trystram asks Isode what is the matte r, and without waiting for her answer reproaches her, as he expects a cheerful greeting after a hard battle. His inquiry “Madame, for what cause make ye us such ch ere? We have bene so re travayled all this day. [had a difficult day]” contains an indi rect complaint (about having a difficult day

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44 and not receiving a proper greeting). But Is ode is anxious because she single-handedly uncovered an intricate plot concocted by a false friend Palomydes to kill Trystram. She starts with an elevated form of address and an extensive apology: th ese features belong to the powerless language. ‘ Myne owne lorde is a form of address more appropriate for a person of a higher status, yet on a social scal e Isode ‘outranks’ Trystram, for he is a knight and she is the Queen of Cornwall. Li kewise, her apology is unnecessary, as she has done nothing wrong. Perhaps Isode is being excessively polite to erase the status difference between her and her beloved Trys tram. She seeks to express her love and appreciation for her interlocutor by us ing overly polite language, which can be considered a “positive politeness” strategy (on positive politeness see Brown and Levinson, 1987). Her warm, gentle words, “ Myne owne lorde, be ye nat displeased wyth me, for I may none othiwyse do,” emphasize her soft and wise nature; and they also signal the beginning of powerless discourse. Ye t what follows next are strong words of condemnation for Palomydes (“ felonne and traytoure”) pronounced with great courage in the very presence of the treacherous kni ght. Isode’s speech becomes direct and straitforward, “ I sawe thys day how ye were betrayed,” (like Queen Margaret she could probably be described as a woman of ‘hau te stomack’), as she switches to powerful discourse. The combination of soft, overly polit e language that occurs in the beginning of Isode’s speech and the powerful style of the main part of her message conveys her conflicting emotions. Indirectly, she advi ses her knight to get rid of the “ traytoure Palomydes .” But Trystram pays little attention to Isode’s words (could it be that the powerless start weakened the total effect of her revelations?). He quickly accepts

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45 Palomydes’ apology and says, “No forse! [=It does not matter] All ys pardonned as on my party. It is possible that Isode’s important speech does not receive the attention it deserves because of the triviality ster eotype mentioned above: woman’s speech is stereotypically regarded as trivial. It is evident from the author’s comment, “Than La Beall Isode hylde downe her hede and seyde no more at that tyme,” that Isode (and th e author) is not satisfied with the outcome of the exchange, (she “ seyde no more at that tyme” implies that there was more to say on the subject and “ Isode hylde downe her hede” means she was not satisfied with the out come of the conversation). Malory’s intellegent Isode is also a co mplex and unconventional character: “the fayrest and pyerles of all ladyes” [the faires t and peerless of all ladies] she denounces her royal status and leaves her husband King Mark of Cornwall for her lover sir Trystram. Her verbal behaivour is equally unstereot ypical. As Trudgill (1972) suggests, women display their social status thr ough signals of status in their sp eech. However, in this case, Isode downplays her social status for th e sake of achieving solidarity with her interlocutor. Nagging Diana Boxer’s (2002) in-depth analysis of nagging in regard to power relations describes nagging as a complex verbal be havior including elements of griping, complaining, reproaching and scolding. The pr evalence of one or another element, as well as the frequency of nagging in general, depends on such socioli nguistic variables as gender, social distance and a de gree of certainty of relationshi ps between the participants of a speech event. Nagging, presupposing a certain degree of intimacy between the

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46 interlocutors, often occurs in couples talk, as in the follo wing sequence taking place between Isode and Trystram, “I mervayle me muche [I am much surpri sed] that ye rememb ir nat youreselff how ye be here in a straunge contrey [that you do not rememb er yourself that you be here in a strange country], and here be many perelous [perilous] knightes, and well ye wote [you know] that kinge Mark is fu ll of treson [treason]. And that ye woll ryde thus to chace and to hunte unarmed, ye myght be sone [soon] destroyed.” “My fayre lady and my love, mercy! I woll [will] no more do so” (416). Isode’s form of address “ye” is informal and not overly polite as in the previous dialogue. However, her utterances are i ndirect and wordy, possibly undermining the importance of her speech. Her ‘i ndirectness’ makes her speaki ng style powerless. It is possible that Isode intentionally weakens the fo rce of her utterances so that they would not sound like orders. By downplaying her r oyal status (out of consideration for Trystram’s lower status) she undermines the power of her utterances. However, Isode starts her speech with “I mervayle me muche [I am much surprised]”; she does not use any terms of endearment or elevated forms of address in the beginning of this talk, as she did in the beginning of the previous ones. Perhaps Trystram senses the lack of positive politeness in her speech. His response is peculiarly emphatic : he is jokingly using two forms of address at once (“ My fayre lady and my love”), and an exaggerated apology (“ Mercy” [pardon me]) before agreeing to do what she asks. It seems he perceives her speech as a sort of nagging Nagging, presupposing a repeated request and a reminder, may take a form of an interrogative, though its illocutionary force is that of a directive (Boxer, 2002). Isode’s utterance includes re quest and a reminder “I mervayle me muche that ye remembir nat youreselff… [I am much surpised that you do not remember yourself…],” and certainly has th e force of a directive. Trystam clearly does not perceive her speech as a mere request or he w ould not have offered her an apology.

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47 By definition, nagging is a sequence starting with a request, followed by a reminder or more than one reminder, and, if the goa l is not achieved, ending in reproach or scolding. In Malory, the na rrative never presents a complete nagging sequence. However, it is mentioned on more than one occasion by the author that Trystram found himself in dangerous situations because of hi s habit of not wearing armor and, eventually, that habit costed him his life. Thus, it seems as if on the level of “deep structures” the author nags his hero through the words of Is ode, as both the author and Isode wish to prevent the forthcoming tragedy. In what can perhaps be called implicit nagging the author transfers his own knowledge of the pe nding events to his heroine, yet leaving Trystram entirely oblivious of what is to come. Later in the narrative we find that Trystram once again neglected to wear armor, despite of his agreei ng with Isode’s advice (“I woll [will] no more do so”) in this episode. Isode’s advice in this case however sound and useful, can have the illocutionary force of nagging if it was perceived as su ch by Isode’s interlocutor (Boxer, 2005: personal communication). Trystram ’s resistance to following Isode’s advice may not be accidental. In couples talk it is women who are frequently naggers (Boxer, 2002), possibly because men are “inclined to resist ev en the slightest hint that anyone, especially women, is telling them what to do” (Tannen, 1990: 31). Isode resorts to nagging probably because her requests are too easily dismissed. Th e triviality stereotype plays its role here: women’s speech is expected to be trivial, and men are not expected to take woman’s words too seriously, thereby confirming Zimmer man and West’s assertion that men often “deny equal status to women as conversational partners” (1975:125).

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48 Advice and Compliments DeCapua and Dunham in their “Strategies in the discourse of advice” (1993) ascribe to the advice givers three major goals: to help the receivers clarify their problems, to assist them in exploring their options, and to offer directions in re gard to their future actions. These strategies and goals are, in f act, complementary, and they are all present in the next advice given by Isode to Trystram. In this exchange between the two lovers, Isode points out to Trystram the potential c onsequences of missing Arthur’s feast, “Ye that ar called one of the nobelyste kni ghtys of the worlde and a knight of the Rounde Table, how may ye be myssed at that feste [feast]? For what shall be sayde of you among all knightes? A! See how sir Trystram huntyth and hawkyth, and cowryth wythin a castell wyth hys la dy, and forsakyth [forsakes] us. ” “So God me helpe,” seyde Trystram unto La Beall Isode, “hyt ys passyngly well seyde of you [it is very well said of you] and nobely counseyled [advised]. And now I well undirstonde that ye love me.” (506). Isode starts her speech with the compliment “ Ye that ar called one of the nobelyste knightys of the worlde” and Trystram responds by complimenting her on both her speech “hyt ys passyngly well seyde of you” and on her advice “and nobely counseyled [advised].” As often before, Isode gives Trystram thoughtful advice, but in this case her words are uncommonly well received. Trystram not only praises her speech but also suddenly realizes that Isode loves him “And now I well undirstonde [ understant] that ye love me,” even though no words of love were spoke n in this case. Isode’s suggestions are not dismissed: they are taken seriously and appreciated. Her words are not perceived as trivial. It seems that the compliment, which Isode paid to Trystram, played a crucial role in his perception of the entir e message of her speech. Various studies on compliments have concl uded that women give and receive more compliments than men (Wolfson, 1983, Holmes, 1988). The subjects of compliments also

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49 vary according to gender of the speakers: women tend to compliment each other on appearance, while men prefer to be co mplimented on skill or possessions (Wodak, 1981, Tannen, 1991, Coates, 1993 and references ther ein). Isode’s compliment to Trystram “the nobelyste knightys of the worlde” touches upon his knightly skills ; thus it is well received in concordance with the compliment theory. Guinevere’s Advice Isode is not the only female in Le MorteDarthur who possesses a talent for advice giving. There are the three wise women w ho “teche”[teach] the knights “unto stronge adventures” and many other episodical female characters with problem solving abilities. The knights often have a problem recognizing each other when in armor, but the women can always tell who is who. Are these women mo re intelligent or simply more observant? In a relevant example, Queen Guinevere gives her lover Launcel ot an advice, but her advice sounds more like a warning. Queen Guinevere advi ses Lancelot to identify himself to his kinsmen at the tournament to avoid any mistaken identities. Her advice, however, is given in the fo rm of a royal command: “I warne you that ye ryde no more in no justis nor turnementis but that youre kynnesmen may know you, and at thys justis that shall be ye shall have of me a slyeve of gold.” [I am warning you not to ride to any jousts or tournaments unless your kinsmen know you and at these jousts you shall have my sleeve of gold]. “Madam,” seyde Launcelot, “h it [it] shall be done” (642). Guinevere uses no politeness strategies or terms of endearment to downplay her superior status. On the contrary, she emphasizes her dominant position by the commanding manner of her speech. I warne you, sounds almost like a threat. Yet the triple negation that follows adds emotional overtones to he r utterance making her true feelings transpire through her seemingly cold and hard language. She is seriously worried

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50 about Launcelot, who at a prev ious tournament fought nearly to the death with his own cousin without knowing it. She also offers Launcelot her sleeve, a common token of affection in chivalrous world, though Guin evere bestows her favor in an uncommonly forceful manner. It is obvious from Launcelot’s reply that he is not too pleased with her speech – he does not thank her for the offer but his reply is courteous as always. Queen Guinevere has no wish no reduce the status difference between herself and her knight Launcelot; because of her powerful position her advice is unquestionably followed. Guinevere would not allow her speech to be pe rceived as trivial or to be disregarded. Arguing and the Triviality Issue (Guinevere – Lancelot) As mentioned before in this chapter, the discourse of arguing is now a thoroughly studied field of psycholinguistic research. However, in this case, the verbal behavior of arguing is analyzed in connection with the c oncepts of triviality and women’s speech. One aspect of interest for my analysis of Guinevere’s argument with Lancelot is conflict behavior in regard to face maintenan ce: the self-face, others face and mutual face concerns. It has been found by Hamdorf (2003) th at such concerns are correlated with the direct/indirect conflict management styl es that include dominating, compromising, emotional re-enforcing, as well as with psychol ogy of independent versus interdependent personalities. Face concerns are crucial for th e conflict situations, in particular for the persons with a tendency to act interdependently, owing to their sensitivity not only to their self-face, but also to the others face (Hamdorf, 2003). Guinevere’s speech behavior gives an im pression that the psychology of conflict has scarcely changed over 500 years. It seems Guinevere possesses a distinct direct (dominating and emotional) conflict mana ging style. Her speech shows a complete

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51 neglect of the mutual face, disr egard of the face needs of the others, and little concern of self-face, which can be expected of a person with a strong tendency to act independently. In the following episode, arguing occurs be cause Guinevere is jealous as Lancelot spends less time with her, since he is fighting for other women’s causes. In return, Lancelot reminds the Queen how much he has sacrificed for her, how often he fought for her and how he has lost the Grail Quest (“I was but late in the quest of Sankgreall ”) because of her. Yet all this is clearly not wh at the Queen wanted to hear, as evident from her subsequent verbal behavior. She “braste oute wepynge…and when she myght speke she seyde [and when she might speak she said], “Sir Launcelot, now I well understonde that th ou arte a false, recrayed knight and a comon lechourere, and lovyste and holdis te othir ladies, [love and hold other ladies] and of me thou haste dysdayne and scorne. For wyte thou well, now I undirstonde thy falsehede I shall never love the [thee] more, and loke thou be never so hardy to com in my syght [never come in my sight]. And ryght here I dyscharge thee [from] thys courte, that thou never com within hit [never co me within it], and I forfende thee my felyship, and uppon payne of thy hede [upon pain of your head] that thou see me nevermore!” (612) Because of Guinevere’s angry wo rds and powerful (though groundless) accusations, “false, recrayed knight,” she, perhaps, would have been called manly, vehement, and mutable, like Queen Margaret. Her speech is extremely powerful, yet she shows an unlikely weakness and breaks into tears, “braste oute wepynge” (perhaps it is something of a stereotype that a woman displays her emotional state of mind by weeping). The Queen struggles to regain he r strength by using her entire artillery of orders when in five different ways she fo rbids Launcelot to see her (e.g. “I dyscharge thee [from] thys courte,” and “I forfende thee my felyship”). Though by her repeated use of negation (never is used four times in one sentence) she seems to be negating her own words. No one, with the exception of Launcelot, believes that she meant it all. One of the

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52 knights comments, “Women in their hastyness e woll [will] do oftyntymes that aftir hem sore repentith [they do what they afterwar ds strongly regret].” Though Launcelot does not share that knight’s opinion, it seems Guin evere’s weeping makes her lose some of her powerful status: the knight’s comment “Women in their hastynesse” refers to her gender, not her royal status. The imbedded message of the knight’s comment is that Guinevere’s speech is not important, because it is tentative (h er decision is not definite, she is going to change her mind later on). In the words of West and Zimmerman (1987) gender is a “master status,” which explains why Guinever e’s power is constantly questioned, despite of her royal status. Once the Queen loses some of her power by showing weakness (her tears), her speech is perceived as insignificant and trivial. Conclusion This chapter’s analysis of powerful and powerless speech incorporated the historic perspective on gender roles, as well as the strategies and methodology of discourse analysis and sociolinguistics, allowing for an in-depth study of the interplay of speech behaivor, gender and power in Malory’s Le Morte Darthur The main female characters of Le Morte Darthur possess unique and complex personalities; strong, passionate, defiant of conventions, they are, at the same time, vulnerable. They are vulnerable not because they are weak but for the very reason of being too strong, too proud and unconventional. The conflict between their personalities, their roles, and the social c onstraints of their gender is reflected in their language, particularly in the interchangeable use of powerful and powerless speech styles. Much like historical characters of Malory’s time, Jo an of Arc and Queen Margaret of Anjou, the women of Le Morte struggle against the age-old stereotypes and conventions.

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53 Meekness was commonly encouraged in women of Middle Ages. In marriage, women often had no say in choosing their marri age partners. Igrayne’s forced marriage to king Uthur, who killed her husband, is the inva riable beginning of the Arthurian legend (because King Arthur was born out of that union). Igrayne’s powerless position in the beginning of Le Morte Darthur is a reflection of the unbound repression of women during the Dark Ages and in the early Middle Ages. For instance, in 13th century German Romance “Lanzelet” (in Paton, 1929) The hero consecutively marries Iblis, Ad e, Galagadreiz and other maidens, and overtakes their castles after killing their fathers or uncles. In Le Morte Darthur Isode rebels against the forced marriage by leav ing her husband for Trystram; and Guinevere chooses Launcelot as her love interest. The rebelli ous nature of Malory’s heroines is realized in their rejection of a common medieval model of feminine verbal behavior, consisting of meekness and silence (as “silence was synonymous with obedience,” Coates, 1993: 35). Thus, a historic outlook on gender roles also allows for a comparison of the unique roles of Malory’s heroines, as revealed by their verbal behavior, to the stereotypical portrayal of women (and thei r language) in medieval era. Notes 1. Margaret of Anjou (often considered the successor of Joan of Arc, who was burnt at the stake in 1431), married King Henry VI, and thereby became the Queen of England in 1445. Margaret’s marriage entailed a treaty between England and France, upon the conditions of which seve ral French provinces (owned by England before the treaty) were restored to Fr ance. Subsequently, it was Queen Margaret who governed the Lancastrians in the defens e of the throne agai nst the Yorkists, as King Henry lost his mind, perhaps by the in fluence of horrific events preceding the War of the Roses.

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54 CHAPTER 4 THE COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF POWE RFUL AND POWERLESS SPEECH IN MALORY AND THE SOURCES Thus, angel or demon, virgin or whore, Mary or Magdalen, woman is the stage on which the age enacts its own enduring morality play. Angela Leighton, Because men made the laws Introduction Medieval Arthurian literature gave the evolution of women’ s role a truthful rendering, as it incorporated the spiritual lif e of ten centuries. The ancient Arthurian legends were created by the Celtic tribes of th e British Isles, and sp read over Europe by the Armorican Britons who fled to the con tinent in 5th and 6th centuries under the pressure of Anglo-Saxon invaders (revie wed in Bruce, 1958). These legends have inspired the 12th century mast erpieces of Geoffrey of Mo nmouth, Wace and Chrtien de Troyes, as well as the 13th century poems by Robert de Boron and the French prose cycle (the Vulgate), the 14th century “Morte Art hure,” ‘Sir Gawain and The Green Knight” and other romances. The voluminous Vulgate Cy cle contained the most comprehensive anthology of Arthurian sources from which Si r Thomas Malory has drawn most of his material. Yet Malory replaced the accumu lative style of the Vulgate by the dynamic narrative style of his own. Moreover, he made countless additions a nd alterations to the source material, thereby creati ng the great Arthurian epic, “w hich, but for Malory, would not have been.” (Vinaver, 1970: 5). The alte rations made by Malory are particulalry important to the present analysis as they a llow for a comparison of Malory’s portrayal of female characters to their counterparts in th e Vulgate Cycle and their prototypes in the

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55 earlier Arthurian literature. The focus of this chapter is on the changing role of women in Malory’s Le Morte Darthur. Femininity and Gender Stereotypes Lynch (1995) claims that Malory denied women any role except as spectators. The role of the heroines of Le Morte Darthur was also described as passive by Fries (1996), who argues that only the counter -heroines are active, pervas ively assuming a male role. Elizabeth Edwards in her article “The Pl ace of Women in The Morte Darthur” (1996) suggests that Malory failed “to treat the femi nine” content of his Fr ench sources. In this she echoes LaFarge’s (1992: 76) assertion of Malory’s repressed femininity, the “leakage” of which is embodied in the Lady Huntress (who accidentally wounded Lancelot). But did Malory suppress the femini nity of his characters or did he, in fact, empower them? Guinevere of the prose Lancelot might seem more feminine (in comparison to Malory’s Guinevere) but she is ju st an object of chivalrous adoration in the tradition of French medieval romance. Malory ’s powerful female characters challenge the deeply rooted stereotypes of gender-appr opriate behavior. In the same way, the conventions were challenged by the historic heroines of Malory’s lifetime, Joan of Arc and Margaret of Anjou, who became the Queen of England and reigned during the War of the Roses. These women’s powerful presen ce may have had an influence on Malory’s unconventional and controversia l portrayal of women in “L e Morte Darthur.” Assigning Arthurian times to the 5th century, in his book Malory drew illicit pa rallels with his own time, the 15th century. Malory’s words "I wold e lever than have haffe of France" alludes to the crucial argument of the War of the Ro ses – Margaret’s of An jou marriage to King Henry VI on the condition that several provin ces will be restored to France (Seward,

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56 1996). In the 15th century this ev ent was often referred to as th e loss of the half of France (Hall, 1548, Holinshed, 1577). Malory might have developed solidarity with Joan if only because of the role the Duke of Buckingham played in her and his own trials. By one s ource, the Duke was enraged at Joan’s interrogation and was about to strike her while she was in chains (Hicks, 1928). This same person (i.e. Bucki ngham) accused Malory of making an attempt on his life and presided over th e jury at the hearing of his case, thus impeding an objective judgment. Malory could have seen the Lancastrian Queen Margaret when he was a member of Parliament for Warwickshi re. Some biographers (Griffith, 1974) argue that Malory might have been a Yorkist rath er than a Lancastrian, which would place him on the opposing side of Margaret in the Wa r of Roses. However, Malory’s name appeared next to Queen Margaret’s on the list of persons excluded from pardon by the Yorkist King Edward IV (see the list in Field, 1993). Like Margaret, Malory’s Queen Guinevere was eventually depr ived of her royal status. Powerful and Powerless Speech Within the Theme of ‘Damsel in Distress’ As mentioned in the previous Chapter, one of the favorite medieval topics was damsel in distress saved by a chivalric knight. Armstong (2003) argues that Malory’s women are always in need of succor. Edward s (1996) also insists that damsels of “Le Morte Darthur” are constantly in distre ss, “associating with delusion, lostness, enchantment.” They dwell in forests, those re gions “structurally equated of with disguise and disappearance and peopled by hermits and women” (Ibid.). Certainly, the forest is one of the most powerful symbols of the Middle Ages. In the opening lines of the “Divina Commedia,” Dante confesses that in the middl e of life he found himself in a thick forest,

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57 the silva oscura that made him tremble for he lost his way. Three of Malory’s knights felt much the same when they wandered through th e wilderness of Cornwall, until they met three damsels with whose sure hands they (o r at least two of them because one damsel was disappointed in her knight) were led to great worship. In this episode, the source of which is unknown, the knights, rather than ladies, are in n eed of succor. In Malory’s version of th e “The Knight of the Cart” episode, Queen Guinevere finds herself in a powerless position, but ma nages to gain control over the situation, whereas, in Malory’s source of this episode (on sources se e Sommer, 1891), the French prose “Lancelot,” Guinevere plays the conventio nal role of ‘damsel in distress’. This episode deserves a close attention as it exem plifies the empowered role of Guinevere in Le Morte Darthur In the French prose (translation by Pat on, 1929), Prince Meleagant of Gorre comes to Arthur’s court and challe nges the King with the following proposition, “If ye dare give the quene to one of these knights [Arthur’s knigh ts] to lead into the forest, I will do battle with him [for the queen]. If I win the queen, I will lead her away to my country” (255). Sir Kay urges Arthur to accept the dare and vol unteers to take Guinevere to the forest to meet the Prince’s challenge. The Queen has no say in this matter, though she “grieved beyond measure that she had been given to Kay the seneschal” (258). She “swoons” out of distress. Guinevere’s role in this scen e is decidedly powerless. She becomes a trophy in a doubtful contest that must be conducted in the forest. In Malory, the situation is quite different. Meleagant’s arrival at Arthur’s court is omitted, but in the scene unparalleled in the French source, Guinevere and her unarmed knights are “Mayinge” in the woods, when they are attacked by Meleagant and his army.

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58 The Queen instantly confronts Meleagant ba ttering him with a ccusations and strong words of condemnation (see also Chapter 3 on Guinevere’s confrontation style): “Traytoure knight,” seyd Gwenyver, “w hat caste thou to do? Wolt thou shame thyselff?…Thou shamyst all knighthood and t hyselffe and me. And I lat the wyte [I let you know] thou shalt never shame me, for I had levir kut myne owne throte in twayne [rather cut my own throat] rather than thou sholde dishonoure me!” (651). Meleagant retorts “I have loved you many a yere, and never as now cowde [could] I gete you at such avayle [get you at such disadvantage]. And therefore I woll take you as I fynde you” [I will take you as I fi nd you] and proceeds with the attack. The Queen decides to negotiate, “Sir Mellyagaunt, sle nat [slay not] my noble knights and I woll go with thee upon thys covenaunce [this condition] that thou save them and suffir hem no more to be hurte, wyth this that they be lad [they be led] with me wheresomever thou ledyst [wherever you lead] me…” (651). Guinevere makes it clear that she negotiate s not because of weakness, but in order to save her knights from being killed. She becomes the one who di ctates the conditions, which Meleagant accepts. Thus, from the very beginning the Queen acts very unlike the damsel in distress by taking the situation into her own hands. In the events following Meleagant’s first appearance, the Queen’s ro le is once again much more powerful in Le Morte Darthur than in the French prose. In the French “Lancelot,” Lancelot ambus hes Sir Kay, who has the Queen with him in the forest, questions him, “Sir knight, who is this lady that ye lead here?” and attempts to stop him, “Ye will lead her no farther” (260 ). But when Sir Kay explains the rules of Meleagant’s challenge, Lancelot decides to participate in the contest, “And he thought within him that he would watch how Kay sp ed. For the honour would be greater if he [Lancelot] won her from the knight th at had won her from Kay” (260). Hence, Lancelot too sees Guinevere as a trophy that can be wo n in a joust. The French prose makes no mention of Guinevere’ s reaction to Lancelot’s move. She remains

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59 entirely passive as she is led away by Kay, and subsequently, led away by Meleagant, who wins her from Kay. In Malory, the Queen’s ne gotiations with Meleagant allow her enough time to send for Lancelot. However, when Lancelot comes to Meleagant’s castle to fight for Guinevere, she once again refuses to play the pa rt of damsel in distress. In a scene, which can only be found in Malory (but in none of the sources), the Queen greets Lancelot with a question, “Sir Launcelot, why be ye so am oved?” Guinevere’s ques tion implies that she is in no distress, but Lancelot is in distre ss. Lancelot is bewild ered. He answers her question with a question, “A! madame, why as k ye me that questyon?” Guinevere makes it clear that she has the situa tion under control, “all thynge ys [is] put in myne honde [in my hands]” (655). What Lancelot does not know is that just as he entered the castle, Meleagant panicked and surrendered to Gu inevere (“holy I put me in your grace”), begging her to “ rule ” Lancelot. Thus, Guinevere is now in a complete charge of the situation, having power to rule both her en emy and her defender. She never admits to Lancelot that his arrival had any effect on the events because that would shift the power from her to Lancelot. When Lancelot tells he r that his horse was killed by Meleagant’s archers, Guinevere softens her manner and thanks him heartily, “Truly, seyde the quene, “ye say throuthe, but heartely I thanke you.” As for the enemy, Guinevere uses her power to the uttermost. In the subs equent scene she urges Lancelot to fight Meleagant to the death. Notably, Queen Margaret too was merc iless to her enemies in the War of the Roses. She had the rebellious Duke of York beheaded and his severed head brought to her on a lance (Seward, 1996).

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60 In the French “Lancelot,” when Lancelot arrives at Meleagant’ s castle, he mostly converses with King Baudemagus, Meleagant’s father, who also plays the role of the negotiator between his son and Lancelot. Ma lory omits Baudemagus entirely; Guinevere herself does all the talking (above ), in sharp contrast to Guin evere of the French romance, who plays no part in her own rescue. The kidnapping and rescue of Queen Guinever e is an essential pa rt of the Arthurian Romances: in a slightly different form this episode appears in both Vulgate “Lancelot” and in Chrtien de Troyes. Malory’s endea vor was to preserve the Arthurian legends, however he changed the episode considerably by assigning a powerful role to Guinevere through her use of powerful discourse. In the Fr ench “Lancelot” and in Chrtien, it is King Bademagus who prevents his son from ra ping Guinevere, and then talks Lancelot into sparing Meleagant. In Malory, Guinev ere herself suppresses Meleagant’s advances, and she is also the one who submits Lancel ot into acting accordi ng to her own plan. In Chrtien’s version of the story, Guin evere is extremely demanding of her lover Lancelot, and her ambiguous verb al behavior sends him away in despair. Yet the Queen’s role in the resolving of the conflict with Mel eagant is utterly passive. It just was not in the tradition of amour courtois for a romantic heroine to orchestrate her own rescue mission. Thus, Guinevere’s powerful role in Le Morte Darthur makes her more similar to Queen Margaret of Malory’s time than to Queen Guinevere of the earlier Romances. Powerful and Powerless Speech Within the Theme of Healing and Seduction Knepper (2001: 9) ascribes to Malory’s women a fiendi sh power of intrigue and seduction – they are the “bad girls” who “will love you to death.” It is true that in Malory

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61 and his sources, a number of heroines are endow ed with the gift of healing wounds, while some of them are also seducers. The coinci dence is not accidental, because both healing and seduction are related to sorcery. As Cook (1995) notes, magical forces are most frequently called for in matters of heali ng and love, the areas in which power over physical and psychological circumstances is most desperately needed. The most famous of the enchantresses, Mo rgan Le Fey, first appeared in Geoffrey Monmouth’s Vita Merlini (ed. 1929) as one of nine sist ers living in Happy Island, the Celtic Otherworld. She is named as a healer of King Arthur’s wounds in the Isle of Apples (Avalon). In Layamon’s Brut she is Agrante (an anagra m of Moregante) of whom King Arthur says: “And I will fare to Avalun, to the fairest of all maidens, to Agrante the queen, an elf most fair, and she shall make my wounds all sound, make me all whole with healing draughts” (Paton, 1903). Chrtien de Troyes made her Arthur’s sister in “Erec.” She then appears in the French prose Merlin as Viviane, who deceived Merlin and shut him forever in a cave. It is perhaps wo rth mentioning that Morgan has been once identified with Morrigan, Irish battle-goddess (Benson, 1976). In Malory, Morgan Le Fey, King Arthur’s sister, at one point seizes Lancelot and offers he rself to him as his “peramour” [paramour]. In the corre sponding scene of the French prose Lancelot Morgan Le Fee and her ladies encounter sl eeping Lancelot and, ev en though they do not recognize him, they are so struck by his beauty that they decide to enchant him and carry him off to Morgan’s castle. On ly later they learn that their prisoner is Lancelot, which makes them alter their plans for him, as they add Guinevere to the targets of their evil plot. In Malory, Morgan and her companions, who are also queens-enchantresses, express

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62 no admiration for Lancelot’s beauty but r ecognize him immediately and make their intentions very clear to him from the start. “Sir knyght, the four quenys seyde, ‘thou muste undirtsonde thou art oure presonere, and we know the well that t hou art sir Lancelot du Lake, kynge Banis sonne. And because that we undirstonde youre worthynesse, that thou art the noblest knyght lyvyng, and also we know well there can no lady have thy love but one, and that is quene Gwenyvere, and now thou shalt hir love lose for ever, and she thyne. For it behovyth the now to chose one of us four, for I am quene Morgan le Fay, quene of the londe of Gore, and he re is the quene of North Galys, and the quene of Estlonde, and the quene of Oute Iles. Now chose one of us, whyche that thou wolte have to thy peramour, other elly s [or else] to dye in this prison. (152). Initially, the author introduces the four queens as the speakers (i.e. “the four quenys seyde”), but the later part, “for I am quene Morgan le Fay,” makes it obvious that Morgan is the main carrier of the message. It is in vain to search for magical incantations or chants in Morgan’s speech; nevertheless, in its form Morgan’s language does resemble a charm. It seems that with her wo rds “and now thou shalt hir love lose for ever, and she thyne” [and now you shall her love lose forever and she yours], Morgan is attempting to cast a spell on Lancelot. The charms or spells are defined as “very practical formulae designed to produce definite result s” (Cavendish, 1977: 62) Cook (1995) also notes that many charms contain clear and explic it language, and their intent is frequently to either banish or bind. Perhaps Morgan’s words intend to bring a result of banishing Lancelot’s love for Guinevere and binding his affections to one of the four queens. Yet the Sorceress does not fully rely on the power of her magic spell, or there would be no need to threaten Lancelot with long-term imprisonment: a non-magical attempt to overpower him. As mentioned before, Morgan’s message is clear and explicit; moreover, her speech is powerful and assertive, as it is loaded w ith threats, directives, and ultimatums. Morgan gives Lancelot an ultimatum to either accept he r or one of her female companions as his

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63 “peramour” [paramour], or else to die in pris on (“other ellys to dye in this preson”). The other ultimatum is to forsake his love for Guinevere and, once again, to bestow his love on one of Morgan’s party (“and now thou shalt hir love lose for ever, and she thyne. For it behovyth the now to chose one of us four”). Fries (1994) suggests that the counter-heroin es, such as Morgan le Fey, pervasively assume male roles in Le Morte Darthur. Yet, Morgan’s actions are very similar in Le Morte Darthur and the French source; the difference lies mostly in her verbal behavior, which is more forceful in Malory. Thus, it must be due to the powerful nature of Morgan’s language that her role is perceived by Fries, and some other literary analysts, as that of a male character. However, I argue that directness and assertiveness of speech do not necessarily constitute the a ttributes of male verbal behavi or. It is likely that Morgan of the French prose, who declares her admi ration for Lancelot’s beauty (even compares him to an unearthly being) and whose actions are initially driven only by her desire for him, seems more feminine in comparison to Malory’s Morgan, who instantly defines her plan of actions while making no notice of Lancelot’s beauty. Thus, Morgan’s speech is considerably altered and made more forceful and decisive in Malory, though her ev il role in this episode is si milar to that of the prose. Nevertheless, in the final scenes of Le Morte Darthur, Morgan Le Fey is one of the four queens who accompanied Arthur on his last jo urney to Avalon. Malory alters Morgan’s evil role by merging her at th e end with the fair Agrante of Avalon, or the healer of Arthur’s wounds in Monmouth, thus making Morg an’s role more complex in its duality. The mighty knights are defensel ess against the warlike enchantresses, another one of which is Lady Huntress that shot “slepynge and slumberynge”[sleeping and

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64 slumbering] Lancelot “in the thyke of the buttock” with her arro w. Notably, in the Vulgate cycle it is a male hunter that w ounded Lancelot. A short scene describing the unfortunate meeting of Lancelot and the Lady-Huntress, with a conversation between them created solely by Malory, has lately at tracted a good deal of a ttention from literary critics. Maud McInerney (2000: 91) considers the episode central to the whole story, signifying a gruesome view of a woman as “t he greatest threat to chivalry,” which she ascribes to Malory. But let us examine the verbal exchange th at takes place betwee n Lancelot and the Huntress. When sir Lancelot sees th e woman that wounded him, he says: “Lady, or damesell, whatsomever ye be, in an evyll tyme bare ye thys bowe. The devyll made you a shoter! [Lady, or damsel, whoever you may be, in evil time bare you this bow. The devil made you a shooter]. “Now Mercy, fayre sir!’ seyde the lady. I am a jantillwoman that usyth here in thys foreyste huntynge,” she explains to La ncelot, “and God knowyth I saw you nat.” [“Forgive me, fair sir’, said the lady. I am a gentelwoman that hunts here in the forest and God knows I did not see you] (643). In this incident Lancelot is so angry and frustrated that he has trouble using a polite form of address for the Huntress. Hence, he is addressing her as “Lady, or damesell, whatsomever ye be.” Next, the Huntress offers Lancelot an apology (“Now Mercy, fayre sir!’ seyde the lady”) and also an explanation for what has happened: “I am a jantillwoman that usyth here in thys foreyste huntynge,” she explains to Lancelot, “and God knowyth I saw you nat but as here was a barayne hynde at the soyle in this welle. And I wente I had done welle, but my hande swarved” (643). [I am a gentlewoman that hunts here in the forest and God knows I did not see you, but here was a deer at the well and I went for it. And I would have done well, but my hand swerved].

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65 Although, the Huntress produces an apology a nd explains that she was aiming at the deer and not at Lancelot, she seems to be somewhat more interested in defending her shooting than she is in her victim’s conditi on. Her words (I would have done well, if it were not for my hand swerving) aim to negate Lancelot’s assertion, “Devil made you a shooter.” But perhaps the lady’s verbal beha vior, betraying little compassion for her victim, is in accordance with her personality of a huntress. Her speech reveals no fear, little emotion, and she explains hersel f with great confidence. Her apology1, followed by her well-composed explanation, convinces La ncelot that the shooting was accidental, which eliminates any animosity be tween the Huntress and Lancelot. Yet what follows next are Lancelot’s lame ntations for which Malory finds language that is strikingly powerless. In this situation, Lancelot ’s powerless language possibly reflects the powerless nature of the situ ation in which he finds himself: “A, mercy Jesu’ seyde sir Lancelot, “I may calle myselff the moste unhappy man that lyvyth, for ever whan I wolde have faynyst worshyp there befallyth me ever som unhappy thynge” (644). [I may call myself the most unhappy man th at lives, because ever when I would have had worship (i. e. honor, recogn ition, glory) there befalls some unhappy thing]. Lancelot’s speech is uncommonly powerless, as he is complaining and, moreover, exaggerating the gravity of his situation. His utterance “for ever whan I wolde have faynyst worshyp there befallyth me ever som unhappy thynge,” is a considerable exaggeration because there have been many occasions in which Lancelot gained the desired “worship,” even more so as he is called the wo rld’s best knight. Sir Lancelot is not addressing his compla ints to the Huntress: he begins his complaining after the lady has already departed, as the author informs us. Thus, Lancelot is complaining to himself, or rather he is addressing his complaints to God, (“A, mercy

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66 Jesu”). Lancelot’s speech may be considered an indirect complaint, where adressee is not held responsible for a percieved offense. This type of complaining is also refered to as “griping” or “troubles-tel ling” (Katriel, 1985; Jeffers on and Lee, 1981; Tannen, 1990; Boxer, 1993). As there is no expectation of receiving a response, Lancelot’s complaint may also be classified as rhetorical indirect complaint a way of ‘letting off steam’ (Boxer, 1993) or in Goffman’s terms, an elaborated ‘response cry’ (Goffman, 1978, in Boxer, 1993). A ‘response cry’ can simply be a cry in direct response to pain, and in this case Lancelot is in a considerable physical pain, though it is not the physical pain that upsets him, but the fact that the injury may hinder his success at the future tournament. Therefore, he produces a rhetor ical indirect complaint or an elaborated response cry that goes beyond a pain cry. More indirect complaints are exchan ged among women than among men, possibly because men are reluctant to display vulnera bility or weakness often inherent in the telling of troubles (Boxer, 1993: 392). Interestingly, Lancelot allows no mortal communicator to witness his gr iping, nor is he looking for commiseration in his moment of weakness. Yet the author lets the audi ence in on the vulnerability display of his principal male character, possibly eliciting the audience’s commiseration for the latter. Catherine LaFarge (1992) attempted a Freudian interpretation of this episode as a reversal of sex roles revea ling Lancelot’s (and Malory’s ) repressed femininity. The unusually powerless verbal behavoir and power less role of Lancelot in this episode appears to be in contrast with the powerful role of the Hunt ress who speaks and acts with self-confidence and determination. LaFarge (199 2) speaks of the reversal of sex roles (meaning that the Huntress assumes a male role, while Lancelot takes a female role in

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67 this scene) undoubtedly due to such unlikel y distribution of power. However, LaFarge’s theory would only work if powerful verbal behaivor were indeed an exclusive characteristic of male speech, and powerl ess behaivor were reserved for female characters. Of course, in this work I have been continuously building an argument against this assumption. Lancelot’s griping and complaining, however excessive, does not transform him into a female, nor does the Huntresses’ power and communicative confidence turn her into a male because both female and male characters exhibit occurrences of powerful and pow erless verbal behavior in Le Morte Darthur Ultimately, the role of the Huntress in Le Morte Darthur could only be fully understood in conjunction with other episodes of the kind. Such episodes are insertions from the literature of much earlier periods of time. Like the fiery damsels who in the scene with Marhaus “spette uppon” [spat on] the knight’s shield and “threwe myre” [threw mare] upon it, then “fledde [fled] as they were wylde that som of them felle by the way,” these wild ‘women of the woods’ bri ng with them the chaos and raw passions of the Dark Ages. Of course, the Lady Huntress originates from ancient mythology, but she also has something in common with the fiendish wood fa iries of Celtic folklore (she came as if out of the woodwork – the sounds of the hunt and the barking of th e dogs did not wake Lancelot). Whether inspired by the ancient lege nds or the historic he roines of Malory’s time, the Lady Huntress is partially transfor med by Malory from a hunting deity into a not so unearthly woman, who is simply capable of taking care of herself. La Belle Isode of Le Morte Darthur also still bears a sli ght resemblance to her prototype of a warlike enchantress of the ancien t Celtic legends: she is skillful at healing,

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68 and she at one point volunteers to “purvey hor se and armoure” for Trystram’s battle with Palomydes. Yet in French romances Isode’s role is decidedly powerless. Even her love for Trystram is not her own choice but the result of a magic spell2. In contrast, Isode of Le Morte Darthur is a woman of wisdom who makes her own choices in life. Although Malory preserves the theme of the magic love drynke [drink], which is present in all of the older versions of the Trystram and Isode legend, the author of Le Morte Darthur makes it very clear that Isode and Trystram fell in love long before the magic drink was ever made. Moreover, Malory portrays the love story of Isode and Trystram in its progression, beginning from their first meeti ng, when Trystram taught Isode to play the harp and “she began to have a grete [great] fantasy unto hym” (239). Immediately after this sentence, in which the word began signals the beginning of th e relationship, we learn how Isode tells Trystram that another knight (Palomydes) ha s done a great deal for her sake, thereby making Trystram jealous of his competitor (“Thus was there grete envy between Tramstryste [Trystram] and Palomydes”). Next, Isode encourages Trystram to enter a tournament as her knight and supplies him with horse and armor. Thus, in Malory the magic drink plays little ro le, while Isode’s relationship wi th Trystram is neither the result of enchantment, nor is it a matter of chance. In fact, the development of this relationship is strongly facil itated by Isode herself (this was before she married King Mark). Malory empowers Isode by disassociating hi s heroine’s wisdom from sorcery, as well as by emphasizing Isode’s sensibility and making her an ex cellent judge of character. She knows she can trust Dame Br angwayne, who is always loyal to both Trystram and Isode in Le Morte Darthur whereas in the French Tristram as Helen

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69 Cooper (1996) notes, Brangwayne tries to kill Isode. Moreover, Isode is the one who uncovers an intricate plot to destroy Trystr am, concocted by Palomydes (who at that time pretends to be Trystram’s friend): “I sawe thys day how ye were betray ed and nyghe brought unto youre dethe…And therefore, sir, how sholde I suffir in your e presence suche a felonne and traytoure as ys sir Palomydes?” (460). [I saw this day how you were betrayed and nearly brought to your death…And therefore, sir, how should I tolerate in your presence such a felon and traitor as sir Palomydes?]. Isode’s intellectual superior ity is not always accepted by the male characters of Le Morte Darthur Palomydes disregards Isode’s comment entirely, while Trystram pays little attention to her revela tions. The latter quickly accepts Palomydes’ apology and says, “No forse! All ys pardonned as on my party.” It is evident from the author’s comment, “Then La Beall Isode hylde downe her hede a nd seyde no more at that tyme,” that Isode (and the author) is not satisfied wi th the outcome of the exchange. The Celtic Isode could have had the sa me prototype as her contemporary and compatriot Grainne from the “The Reproach of Diarmaid,” an Irish saga telling a similar story of a queen that ran to the fore st with a nephew of her husband, the king (Schoepperle, 1913). After making Diarmaid he r lover, Grainne by no means felt obliged to be faithful to him and, while in the forest, had affairs with passing knights. Such women made medieval historians and some Arthurian scholars equally indignant. Sexual behavior of the Celtic hero ines was described as “gemein,” shameless, vulgar, abandon (Zimmer, 1911: 167). With ge neral prejudice against women being so strong, it is remarkable that Malory wa s enforcing such a display of power and determination in women. In spite of th e common practice of his time and perhaps remembering that both Joan of Arc and Qu een Margaret were accused of witchcraft, Malory greatly reduced the th eme of enchantment by women.

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70 In Le Morte Darthur the intelligence of the heroines of Arthurian legends, and their struggle to gain and maintain power (as seen through their language ), are no longer seen as the unnatural phenomena to which the wo rks of magic and sorcery are the only explanation. Powerful and Powerless Speech Within the Theme of Adultery Medieval literature leaves one with an im pression that adultery was fairly common. In addition to the adultery of Guinevere and Isode in Malory, and Guinevere’s affair with Mordred in Monmouth, there was the unfaithful Scotch queen Ysaune from the “Livre de Caradoc,” Fenis from Chretien’s “Clidge,” who feigned death in order to deceive her husband Alis for the sake of Clidge, and many others. Malory applies no moralism to his adulte rous queens, calling Guinevere a ‘trew lover’, and La Beale Isode, ‘the fayrest’ and ‘pyerles of all ladyes’. Their adultery is often the result of the sexual misbehavior of the male characters. Uther Pendragon kills Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall and, disguised as the latter, seduces his wife Igreyne, of which liaison King Arthur is born. The hero of Chretien’s “Yvain” marries the widow of a knight he has slain and becomes the lord of her castle. Meleagant nearly rapes Guinevere, but is stopped by king Baudemagus, in the Vulgate Cycle. In Malory, the villainous Meleagant has similar intentions. A nother one of Malory’s villains, King Mark of Cornwall, gives Segwarydes’ wife, the fair est lady of his court (this was before Mark married Isode) to Bleoberys de Ganys, the knight of the Round Table, who demanded from him “what giffte I woll aske in this c ountry” (246) [what gift I will ask in this country]. It seemed to have been a common custom of the time for a king to promise particularly honored guests of the court any wish or any gift that they may ask for. In this

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71 case, the wife of one of the King Mark’s s ubjects, Sir Segwarydes, becomes the “gift” that is requested by Sir Bleoberys and gr anted by Mark. However, in Malory, King Mark’s behavior is depicted in the most negative light. Even t hough the King’s decision is accepted by Sir Segwarydes a nd other knights, an unnamed lady of the court speaks out and demands of Trystram, who is the court’ s best knight and King Mark’s nephew, to remedy the situation: “Than there was one lady that rebuked si r Trystrames in the horrybelyst wyse, and called hym cowarde knyght, that he wold e for shame of hys knyghthode to se a lady so shamefully takyn away fro hys uncklys courte…”(247). [There was one lady that reproached/shame d sir Trystram in the most horrible way and called him coward knight, that he would, for shame of his knighthood, see a lady so shamefully taken away from his uncle’s court (King Mark is Trystram’s uncle)]. Malory retells the lady’s speech in an i ndirect quote, but the emphatic expressions the author uses, “rebuked in the horrybelyst wyse [shamed in the most horrible way],” as well as “called hym cowarde knyght [called him coward knight]” give us an idea that the lady used very strong language to pe rsuade Trystram to take action. Thus, when a knight’s wife is given away as a gift to a stranger, the men remain silent, but another lady protes ts in the strongest manner a nd seeks out a remedy for the situation. This episode is yet another example of the striki ng contrast that exists in Le Morte Darthur between the powerless position that the society assigns to women and the powerful roles those women struggle to undertake, as evident from their verbal behavior. Furthermore, in Malory’s “Trystram,” Ki ng Mark receives as a gift a magic horn “that had such a virtue that there myght no lady nothir jantyllwoman drynke of but if she were trew to her husband; and if she were false she sholde spylle all the drynke” (326).

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72 [that had such a vertue that there might no lady drink from it but if she were true to her husband; and is she were false she would spill all the drink]. King Mark tested his wife, La Belle Isode, and a hundred ladies wi th her, and only four of the latter could “drenke clene” [drink clean, i.e. without sp illing]. The indignant king ruled all the adulteresses to be burned, but his subjects “seyde playnly they wolde not ha ve the ladies brente” (326) [said plainly that they woul d not have the ladies burnt]. The author does not elaborate on whether the men of the court doubted the fairness of the test, or whether they found a different way of dealing with their wives’ adultery, other than burning the ladies. The only thing that the author finds worth mentioning in this case is that the men plainly refused to burn their wives. The word plainly here draws emphasis to the firmness and finality of their decision. Nonetheless, the wives themselves have no say in this matter. There are however, episodes in the “Trystram” chapter of Le Morte Darthur where Malory follows the source material with lit tle alteration. The altere d pieces (or the ones written solely by Malory) and the unchanged scenes often appear to be ages apart, especially, as far as the women’s roles are concerned. This is also the case in the following episode, where Sir Brewnor sets up a beauty contest between his wife and La Belle Isode on the condition th at the loser would be beh eaded. Since it has been unanimously admitted that Isode was the “fayrer lady and the better made” of the two, “sir Tristram strode onto hym (Brewnor) and toke his lady frome hym [took his lady from him], and with an awke stroke he smote of hi r hede clene [and with one stroke cut off her head]” (259).

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73 The last scene is particularly striking because Malory usually changes such blunders of his favorite knight s. Eerie and savage, the be heading contest echoes the unbound repression of women in the Dark Ages; like a bad dream it can not be altered. Yet one can not help wonder at the real-life prototypes of those creatures who meekly married the killers of their husbands, who were taken by force as troph ies, raped, given as gifts to strangers or fell victims to beheading games. Powerful and Powerless Speech within the Themes of Amour Courtois and Earthly Love Malory’s true knights are the ones who fi ght for “ladyes ryght” (238). But it was long debated whether the chivalric service to ladi es existed in real lif e or it was merely an invention of minstrels (Benson, 1976). On historical evidence, in the 12th century when the chivalric love flourished in literatu re, jousting was essentially a commercial undertaking in which a landless knight could make a fortune (Ibid.). The chivalric ideal gradually penetrated from romance to reality, and in 14th – 15th centuries it became the foundation of the moral code. The newly f ound orders of knighthood took an oath to sustain widows in their right and maidens in their virginity, and help them and succor them. The oath impelled the knights not to ta ke or touch any lady or damsel unless she consented to it. Moral writers endeavored to give such rules a historical validity by extending them back to the Arthurian time. Minstrels were economically dependent on la dies for whom they wrote, which gave a reason to excessive flattery and declarations of ideal love. At the same time, their social status prevented anything but sexles s relationship with those ladies. A more fundamental reason for denouncing sexual love was religious: the earthly love was admissible as a parabola of the heav enly one. The code of chivalric love, the

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74 “amour courtois,” was elaborated by Chrtien de Troyes, as well as Andreas Capellanus3, under the influence of their patroness Marie of Champagne who brought the concept from her native Provence. A chivalric lover avoids any direct contact with his lady, but he is infatuated with any object related to he r. Thus in the French Prose, Lancelot swoons at the sight of Guinevere’s hair on a com b. Also in the prose “Lancelot,” the hero conceals his feeling until his friend Galehot ar ranges a rendezvous and Guinevere kisses him. Consummation of their love, taking plac e while Camille enchants King Arthur, is mediated by the Lady of the Lake by means of a magic shield. Malory omitted most of this. His Guin evere is a proud woman of considerable wisdom, who would not swoon even at the sight of a knight carrying the severed head of his wife (Malory might have known how Queen Margaret handled the head of the Duke of York). Malory ignored the grandiloquent de clarations of love and the first kissing of Lancelot by Guinevere, a key scene in the prose Lancelot In the French prose, Guinevere debates whether she should kiss Lancelot, t hough not with Lancelot but with his friend Galahot. At first she is against the idea, “As for kissing, I see not that this is either time or place” (Paton 1903), but later on allows herself to be persuaded. This easily manipulated Guinevere of the French Romance is very different from Malory’s Guinevere, who does not allow he rself to be persuaded by others. Malory considerably reworked the story of Guinev ere’s kidnapping by Meleagant (as previously discussed). In the Vulgate Lancelot Guinevere is a victim in a deal between King Arthur and Meleagant. In Troyes, as the tradition of amour courto is requires, the Queen is helpless in the hands of men and for her esca pe is entirely oblige d to Lancelot, with whom she is nevertheless angry for his trifle deviation from the rules of chivalry. In

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75 Malory, at Guinevere and Lancelot’s meeting at the window, Lancelot ”wysshed that he myght have comyn in to her.” And her response was, “I wolde as fayne as ye that ye myght come in to me.” The directness and sinc erity of their talk sta nds in sharp contrast to the artful intricacies of courtly love. In Ma lory love is as “earthly” as nature itself; “For, lyke as trees and erbys burgeny th and florysshyth in May [like trees flourish], in lyke wyse every laste hart e that ys ony maner of lover spryngith, burgenyth, buddyth, and florysshyth in lust y dedis [likewise every lover’s heart flourishes] …And therefore a ll ye that be lovers, calle unto youre remembrance the monethe of May, lyke as ded quene Gwenyver, for whom I make here a lyttyll mencion, that whyle she lyved she was a trew lover [while she lived she was a true lover], and therefor she had a good ende.” This “lyttyll mencion” [little mention] in which Malory calls Guinevere a true lover is very different from what was said of this queen before Le Morte Darthur Disloyalty is the essence of Guanhamara (Guinevere) in Geoffrey Monmouth’s Historia There she is a typical medieval adulterous quene supporting Mordred, a nephew of her husband, in his attempt to size power over the Arthur’s empire. She is primarily responsible for the eventual collapse of th e Round Table. Legends say of her that she was bad when she was small but even worse when she grew up, and she met her end tied to wild horses and torn to pieces (Bruce, 1958). The 12th century sources tell of her capturing by king Melwas ( Vita Gildas ) or Meleagant (in Chrtien’s Lancelot ) whose kingdoms are described as places of no retur n, the Otherworld. She is rescued by either Arthur or, in the chivalric tradition, by her knight, init ially, sir Kay who was then substituted, supposedly on advice of Mari e de Champagne, (Kennedy, 2001) by a more chivalrous Lancelot Under the pen of Chrtien de Troyes and his followers (the prose Lancelot ) she became an ideal subjec t of chivalric love. Yet for Chrtien and the author of the prose Lancelot she had to be blamed for Lancelot ’s failure in the quest of Holy

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76 Grail. Eventually, earthly love, even the ch ivalric one, was a sad impediment on the way to eternal heavenly love. Malory admits that Lancelot was not the best in the Grail Quest, but Malory’s conclusion is very different from that of hi s predecessors. Lancelot failed in the Grail Quest but he never failed in his love for Gu inevere. When Guinevere was captured in the castle of Meleagant, Lancelot did not he sitate for a moment (compared to prose Lancelot where he hesitated for a moment) to ride in a cart, as was the custom for those sentenced to gallows, to rescue his lady. Lancelot’s lo ve for Guinevere allows him to prove himself worthy of his status of the most noble knight, de spite of his failure in the Grail Quest. In the episode succeeding the “Knight of the Cart,” Lancelot cures sir Urry – the spiritual task that only “the moste nobelyste knight” could perform. In the “Fair Maid of Astolat” episode, Malory once again departs from his sources to emphasize his own conception of love and mo rality. Elayne, the Fair Maid of Astolat, is one of the most modest and innocent of Ma lory’s heroines. Yet she is the one to throw a serious challenge to the deeply rooted gender-based stereotypes. She falls desperately in love with Launcelot and asks him to be her husband. “Sir, I wolde have you to my husbande,” seyde Elayne” (638). But Launcel ot can neither accep t her proposal, nor admit to her that he loves Guinevere (b ecause such confessions would compromise Guinevere, King Arthur’s wife), so he politely refuses. “F ayre Damesell, I thanke you hartely,” seyde sir Launcelot, but truly,” se yde he, “I caste me never to be wedded man.” Elayne’s next request is even more unconve ntional, “Than, fayre knight,” seyde she, “woll ye be my paramour?”

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77 It is obvious from Launcelot’s emphatic reply, “Jesu deffende me!” [Jesus defend me!] seyde sir Launcelot. “For than I reward ed youre fadir and youre brothir full evyll for their grete goodnesse” [for then I rewarded your father and your brother ill for their great good ness] that he is shocked by her di rect and strait-for ward proposition. Elayne does not possess the powerful status of Guinevere or Isode; she is a simple woman, not a queen. Her words are plain a nd simple, “Sir, I wolde have you to my husbande”; there are no elevated forms of address or elaborate expessions in her speech. Her language is simple but it is, nonetheless, powerful in its direct ness and clarity. Only in her last utterance does Elayne admit w eakness; “I had no myghte to withstonde the fervent love, wherefore I have my deth [I ha ve no might to withstand the fervent love, therefore I have my death].” The author’s sympathy is with Elayne who has “no myghte to withstonde” the sorrow of unrequited love. In the Prose Launcelot Elayne makes bitter speeches after Launcelot’s rejection, accusing him unjustly of her destruction. She begins to resemble other, not so virtuous, females (such as Morg an Le Fey) who try to trap Launcelot and fail. Once her character is undermined, so is the impact of he r challenge of the assumption that a woman can not express her de sire for a man and st ill maintain her good reputation. Again Sir Thomas Malory alters his sources to preven t the derogation of Elayne. In Le Morte Darthur, Elayne says, “Am I nat an ea rthly woman?” and then with crystal clarity she states, “my belyve ys [my believe is] that I do no offense, though I love an earthly man…” (639). Elayne’s statemen t is powerful and meaningful. She commits “ no offense” by offering her love to Launcelot; and her reputation is blameless.

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78 Conclusion Much like historical heroines of Malory’s time, Joan of Arc and Queen Margaret of Anjou, the women of Le Morte Darthur struggle against the age-old stereotypes and the social constraints of their gender. These “eart hly” women believe in the value of earthly life that includes the lusty m onth of May, the nakedness of Tr ystram in bed with Isode the Fair, the girlish pleasure of Isode the White Hands in “kyssynge and clyppynge,” the innocent “love lettirs” written by young Keyhydyns to Isode and by her to him, and the last order of Guinevere on her deathbed to her knight, sir Lancelot, bidding him “to fetche my corps, and besyde my lord kyng Art hur he shal berye [bur y] me.” This belief (in the value of earthly life ) raised them far beyond the te nets of medieval moralism. Thus, in the above analysis I have attempted to trace the origins and examine the transformations of Malory’s female characte rs for a deeper understanding of their roles and, consequently, their utterances in Le Morte Darthur Notes 1. The word “mercy” in Middle English often served as a way to express an apology. Thus, in this case, saying “Mercy ” does not equal begging for mercy. 2. Malory’s intelligent Isode even has so mething in common with a character of Russian folklore, beautiful sorcere ss Vassilisa the Wise, who loves the simpleminded folk hero Ivan the Fool and guides him through a series of adventures. At times, Ivan disregards Vassi lisa’s advice, with dire consequences. 3. Andreas Capellanus was the author of De Amore Libri Tres (1196), in which the 12th century code of chivalric behavior found its most accomplished form.

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79 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION Overview This dissertation presented a sociolinguistic discourse anal ysis of power relations in female speeches of Le Morte Darthur The present study incorpor ated various approaches to discourse analysis and app lied them to the analysis of female discourses in Malory’s narrative, thereby contributi ng to the understanding of meaning in Le Morte Darthur. In addition, an implication of the present study may be in contributing to a better understanding of gender differences in discou rse and of the role of power in female interactions through histor ical perspective. It has been suggested (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1975) that the methodology of discourse analysis, in particular, that of Speech Act Theory, is better suited for the analysis of spontaneous, rather than literary discourses (C hapter 1). Nonetheless, I found the methodology of Ethnography of Communication, as expounded by Dell Hymes (1974), to be ideally suited for the presen t analysis, especially, when applied in combination with the elements of discourse-historical method of text analysis (Wodak et al., 1990; Titsher et al., 2000). For the present analysis it is important to distinguish between the voices (Pavel, 1985) of implicit narrator (the sources), personified narrator (the author), the hearers (readers/audience), and the participants (pers onages), as discussed in Chapter 1. In this case, the discourse participants who are the personages of Le Morte Darthur are frequently voicing the author’s ideas, while at the same time, acquiring their own voices.

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80 The women’s voices and, cons equently, women’s roles in Le Morte Darthur are currently a controversial issu e (e.g., Wheeler and Tolhurst, 2 001). It may be tempting to presume that the author’s own male style of interaction has aff ected the language of Malory’s female characters, making their speech more masculine or less feminine. It has even been suggested (e.g., La Farge, 1992) th at it was Malory’s intention to reduce or disregard women’s part in the narrative. Ho wever, the present analysis has discovered overwhelming evidence contrary to such assumptions. The true role of women in Le Morte Darthur could, perhaps, be most expressively exemplified by the speech of Elayne, the Fair Maid of Astolat (discussed in Earhtly Love section of Chapter 4). Elayne is a heroin e brought up within the canons of the common medieval model of the sile nt and obedient woman, as evident from the advice she receives from her father to bear her grief in silence. Up to this point Elayne has been adhering to the powerless model of behavior keeping quiet and frequently swooning, as it has been expected of a proper maiden. However, in sharp contrast to her traditional verbal behavior, Elayne rejects her father’s advice, as well as the silent model, by verbalizing her complaints and making power ful statements not only to defend her own actions, but to speak on behalf of all women. In fact, contrast is a marked feature in the speech of Malory’s female characters, especially as far as power features in language are con cerned. The women of Le Morte Darthur vary the way they talk, for strate gic or personal reasons, depending on the situation, context and the discour se participants (as discusse d in Chapter 2). The use of positive politeness strategies and an indirect way of giving advice can be found in the speech style of Isode. Yet, these face-savi ng strategies in Quee n Isode’s speech are

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81 reserved exclusively for the conversations with her lover Trystram, while no hedging is used in Isode’s interactions with the other participants. Guinevere’s dominating, direct and assertiv e speech in a conflict with Meleagant stands in sharp contrast to her verbal behavior in an ar gument with her lover Lancelot. During the course of the argument, Guinever e wavers from her well-composed powerful speech behavior, and breaks into tears, wh ile abandoning all concerns for her own faceneeds. In this case, Guinevere’s tears can be seen as a contextualiz ation cue, signaling the beginning of powerless discourse. By the time the argument of Lancelot and Guinevere occurs, the reader would have become accustomed to the commanding language frequently used by Guinevere in mixed-gende r conversations, which is why a sudden loss of power in the Queen’s speech drastically incr eases the dramatic eff ect of the scene. There is, perhaps, an ever so slight infl uence of author’s own gender on the speech of his female characters, which may be unavoida ble in a case of any author or any literary text. An example of such influence could be rare use of compliments in the speech of female characters. In contrast, the females of the French sources of Le Morte Darthur the prototypes of Malory’s wo men, give and receive compliments in abundance. Yet the reduction of compliments could once again be seen as a deliberate technique employed by the author to emphasize the rare cases in which the compliments are used. Thus, Isode’s compliment to Trystram, at a point of miscommunication in this couple’s talk, brings Trystram to a sudden awareness of Isode ’s feelings for him, while at the same time dissipating a potential argument. On the other hand, Gu inevere never compliments her lover Lancelot directly, yet in a conversation with one of her maids she calls him the “ moste noble knyght of the worlde ” (612). In this case, Qu een Guinevere’s indirect

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82 compliment makes the reader aware of the Queen ’s true feelings for Sir Lancelot, as well as of her unwillingness to convey those feelings to the addressee. Thus, the author’s influence on his hero ines by no means deprives them of femininity, but rather adds to the depth of these heroines, their intelligence and their strong, passionate, unyielding person alities that emerge in the course of their discourses. Malory’s narrative style c ontains few descriptions of his characters; their personalities unfold through th eir communications th roughout various speech events. The present analysis examined the selected inst ances of speech behavior (in which female personages are involved), such as conflicts, confrontati ons, apologies, complains and advice (see Chapter 3). Power relations, both implicit and explicit, ar e a driving force in all kinds of verbal interactions in Le Morte Darthur Moreover, in mixed-ge nder interactions power relations are never absolute, but immensely fluid and flexib le. The power display may be pronounced or subtle, sometimes taking a form of excessive politeness, as in Queen Isode’s forms of address ‘My awne [own] lorde’ to her knight Trystram. Isode’s conversations with Trystram present a contrast to her communication with the disfavored knight, Palamydes, in which power relations are conveyed by the adequately powerful language. At the same time, powerless style by no means predominates among Malory’s female characters and it is often used for stra tegic purposes and with an actual intent to assert power. Thus, when one woman finds herself in a hopelessly powerless circumstances (i. e. the wife of Segrawides given as a gift to Sir Bleoberis by King Mark), another woman vocalizes her complain s about the situation to the King’s nephew.

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83 A seemingly powerless speech act of indirect complaining turns into a power play, as it instigates a rescue mission, in spite of the King’s orders. Interestingly, in mixed-gender intera ctions such as advice, nagging or confrontation, the patterns of interaction fr equently conform to the patterns established for modern male/female communications by the studies on Gender and Language (Tannen, 1990; DeCapua and Dunham, 1998; Boxer, 2000; Hamdorf, 2003). This phenomenon attests to the stab ility of the patterns through tim es and cultural variations. Even different types of conflict managing st yles, established by modern analysts (TingToomey et al., 2001; Hamdorf, 2003), are appl icable in correlation with psychological variables, such as independence vs interdependence and the notion of face (Goffman, 1967). My identification of Queen Margaret, as a possible prototype of Malory’s Queen Guinevere is another attempt to explain the st rong differences between Malory’s heroines and their prototypes in the sour ces. In this study, particular at tention has been paid to the marked difference in verbal behavior of Malo ry’s Guinevere and her literary precursor, Guinevere of Chrtien de Troyes (who almost certainly had a very different historical prototype in the person of Ch rtien’s patroness Queen Marie de Champagne). I have also suggested that not only Queen Guinever e, but to a certain extent all of Le Morte Darthur’s heroines envelop the spirit of extraordinary and influential historical heroines of Malory’s time (Chapter 4). Malory might have the most controversia l prototypes for his heroines, but what makes his female characters so intricate is superposition of different historical levels, from the remnants of matr iarchal habits, through the unbound male dominance in the

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84 Dark Ages, to the Christian doctrine of fe mininity and masculinity as parts of one spiritual body, to the chivalric tradition of adoration of woman, and finally, to the growing role of women in 15th Century political life. Female personages of Le Morte Darthur convey these evolutionary sequences in their verbal behavior. The most archaic leve l is, perhaps, personified by Isode’s mother, who “gryped that swerde in hir honde fersely” [gripped the sword in her hand fiercely] (238), and without any attempt to explain her actions attacked her daughter’s lover Trystram. The victimized woman of the Dark Ages is Queen Igrayne, with abundance of powerless features in her communication with men of power. The chivalric idol is represented by Lyonet, silently waiting to be rescued from the besieged tower by a worthy knight. Yet Malory’s principal hero ines, Isode and Guinevere, with intricate combination of powerful and powerless featur es in their speech, are the embodiment of all these historic and cultural levels, from which their complex and versatile personalities emerge. These women were Malory’s challe nge to the long-standing tradition, in which these same literary characters were very diffe rently assessed (as discussed in Chapter 4). In my opinion, Malory created female characte rs that, with the exception of perhaps, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, have no rivals in e ither Medieval, or in modern literature. Limitations of the research Malory’s voluminous Le Morte Darthur possesses a virtually inexhaustible supply of material for textual discourse analysis The present study of powerful and powerless features in female discourses limits the discourses examined to the selected speeches of the female characters. The purpose of the selec tion is to present the examples of verbal behavior, in which the discursive features related to power appear to be most prominent. However, the delicate interplay of power rela tions in speech often becomes evident only

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85 in the course of a methodical sociolinguistic discourse analys is. Thus, a detailed analysis of the entire content of female speeches from Le Morte Darthur might reveal new nuances of meaning. Another limitation is perhaps in narro wing down the number of speech events examined to selected interactions, such as conflicts, advice, compliment and other events. Yet there appears to be some evidence of anot her kind of verbal behavior in some female conversations, and that is teasing which has not been addresse d in this analysis. This dissertation attempts to demonstrate that the methodology of disc ourse analysis and sociolinguistics can be successfully applied to textual analysis. Yet, there are a few exceptional cases of verbal behavior (e.g. teasing), where the knowledge of paralinguistic and extralinguistic cues (Boxer, 2002: 81), such as intonation and eye gaze, imperative for the analysis, is not available in this case. Directions for Further Research A promising direction for furt her research is in the anal ysis of male discourses of Le Morte Darthur In this dissertation th e speech of the male ch aracters have only been examined in relation to that of their fema le interlocutors, as it has been extremely significant for the present study to assess th e way female discourses are perceived by male participants of the interactions. Howeve r, in the course of the future study it would be possible to analyze male discourses with th e purpose of revealing the patterns of male interaction in Le Morte Darthur It would also be significant to compare the speech of male characters in Malory’s work to the di scourses of their protot ypes in the sources. It has been mentioned in this research that the women of Arthurian legends underwent amazing transformations and gained entirely new voices in the process of becoming the characters of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur A comparison of male speeches

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86 in Le Morte Darthur and the sources is likely to re veal transformations of equal significance. Another interesting area for the futu re research would be a study of couples talk (Tannen, 1990). The conversati ons of the couples (e.g. inte ractions between Guinevere and Lancelot, as well as between Isode and Trystram) in Le Morte Darthur has received attention in this work. However, these conve rsations were analyzed with the focus on female characters. A shift of focus from female discourses to couples talk would undoubtedly lead to other interesting findings concerning mixed-ge nder conversation and further contribute to the understandi ng of meaning of Malory’s work. Closing Remarks In the process of conducting the present study, I came to a full realization of the significance of sociolinguistic discourse analys is in interpreting literary work. In Malory’ work, discourse is the major, sometimes the only tool for conveying meaning. The true role of women in Le Morte Darthur (the subject of many misconceptions and erroneous judgements) became evident in the course of the analysis of their speech. In Christian philosophy there existed a co mmon concept of union of genders as the Head and the Body, in which woman was relegated to the latter role (Stephens, 1989). This concept dominated over Medieval life and literature. Yet Ma lory’s granted his female characters the freedom of expression th at defied relegation of women to the role of the Body. The women of Le Morte Darthur find solutions to problems, which men often find unsolvable, by advising, na gging, scolding, complimenting, threatening, conflict managing and compromising. The co mbination of powerful and powerless features in the speech of female personages refl ects the struggle of Malory’s heroines to gain and maintain power in a society that relegated them to powerless positions.

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87 Another concept, introduced by Saint Paul and cherished by medieval literature, was that of earthly love as microcosmic refl ection of macrocosmic heavenly love (Idid.). Malory structured his work as an antithesis of Saint Paul’s con cept, conveyed through the discourses of the principle female characters Guinevere, Isode and Elayne, who thereby became the proponents of earthly love and earthly life. Some critics accuse the author of Le Morte Darthur of rejection of the spiritual values, because Malory signifi cantly reduced the theme of the Grail Quest and redefined the purpose Knighthood as the protection of Wo men, as opposed to the protection of the Church. Yet, in reality, these crucial alterations symbolize the elevation of the spiritual value of earthly love, and the elevation of the role of women. Thus, it is not accidental that Malory’s philosophy, as well as the main message of his work are voiced by female characters. Sir Thomas Malory, faithful to the Oath of Knighthood that he himself has written, protected the women of Le Morte Darthur not by idealizing them, or turning them into moral tutors, but by empowering them, by letting them speak for all women and by immortalizing their speech.

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88 LIST OF REFERENCES Armstong, D. 2003. Gender and the Chivalric Co mmunity in Malorys Morte Darthur. University Press of Florida. Gainesville. Ascham, R. 1957. In: Vinaver, E. 1970. Ma lory. Clarendon Press. Oxford. 109: 114. Austin, J.K. 1962. How to Do Things with Words. Clarendon Press. Oxford. Bakhtin, M. 1986. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. University of Texas Press. Austin. Banerjee, J. and Carell, P. 1988. Tuck in Your Shirt, You Squid: Suggestions in ESL. Language Learning 38(3): 313-364. Beardsley, M. 1958. Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism. Harcourt, Brace and World. New York. Beebe, L., Takahashi T. and Uliss-Weltz, 1985. Pragmatic Transfer in ESL Refusals. On the Development of Communicativ e Competence. Newbury. Rowley. Benson, L. 1976. Malorys Morte Darthur. Harvard Univ. Press. Cambridge, Mass. Bergvall, V. 1996. Constructing and Enacti ng Gender Through Discourse: Negotiating Multiple Roles In Rethinking Language and Gender Research. V. Bergvall (eds): 45. Borstein, D. 1978. As Meek as a Maid: A Hi storic Perspective on Language for Women in Courtesy Books from the Middle Ages to Seventeen Magazine. Women, Language and Style. D. Butturff a nd E. Epstein (eds.): 11-13. Boxer, D. 1992. Social Distance and Speech Beha vior: The Case of Indirect Complaints. Journal of Pragmatics 19: 74. Boxer, D. 1993a. Complaining a nd Commiserating: Exploring Ge nder Issues. Text 13: 3. Boxer, D. 1993b. Complaints as Positive Stra tegies: What the Learner Needs to Know. TESOL Quarterly 27:277-29. Boxer, D. 2002. Applying Sociolinguistics Domains and Face-to-Face Interaction. Benjamins. Amsterdam. Brown, P. and Levinson, S. 1989. Politeness. Cambridge UP. Cambridge.

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89 Bruce, J. 1958. The Evolution of Art hurian Romance... Oxford UP. Oxford. Burke, K. 1941. The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action. Louisiana UP. Baton Rouge. Cavendish, R. 1977. A History of Magic. Ta plinger Publishing Company. New York. 62. Caxton, W. 1485. Preface to Le Morte Darthur Caxtons Press: Westminster. In: Strachey, E. (ed. Le Morte Darthur. Macmillan. London, 1899: 1-3. Chomsky, N. 1965. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. MIT Press. Cambridge, Mass. Chrtien de Troyes, Erec and Enide; Lance lot; Yvain. 1914. In Comfort, (Engl. transl.), Arthurian Romances. London. Coates, J. 1993. Women, Men a nd Language, Longman Group, London. Cohn, D. 1981. The Enrichment of Narrative. Poetics Today, 2: 157-182. Cook, G. 1994. Discourse and Literature: the Interplay of Form and Mind. Oxford UP, Oxford. Cook, L. 1995. How charms work: A Pragmatic Approach to Old, Middle, and Modern English Charms. Dissertation. University of Florida: 94. Cooper, H. 1996.The Book of Sir Tristram De Lyones. In A Companion to Malory. E. Archibald and A.S.G. Edwards (ed.). Cambridge: 265. Coulthard, M. 1985. An Introduction to Di scourse Analysis. London: Longman. Courts, J. 1976. Introduction la Smiotique Narrative et Discursi ve. Hachette: Paris. De Capua, A. and Boxer, D. 1999. Bragging, Bo asting and Bravado: Male Banter in a Brokerage House. Women and Language 13: 64. DeCapua, A. and Dunham, J. 1993. Strategies in the Discourse of Advice. Journal of Pragmatics 20: 519-525. Edwards, E. 1996. The Place of Women in The Morte Darthur. In E. Archibald and A.S.G. Edwards (ed.). A Comp anion to Malory. Cambridge. Ervin-Tripp, S. 1976. Is Sybil There? The Stru cture of American Directives.Language in Society 5:1. Fairclouth, N. 1989. Language a nd Power. London: Longman. Fairclouth, N. 1992. Discourse a nd Text: Linguistic and Intert extual Analysis Within Discourse Analysis. Discour se and Society, 3: 193-219.

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95 West, C. and Zimmerman D. 1987. Doing Gender. Women in Society, 1(2). Wheeler, B. and Tolhurst, F. 2001. On Arthur ian women. Essays in memory of Maureen Fries. Scriptorium Press. Dallas: 16. Wodak, R. 1989. Language, Power and Ideology. Benjamins. Amsterdam. Wodak, R. 1992. Disorders of Discourse. Longman. London. Wodak, R. and Reisiegl, M. 1999. Discourse and Discrimination. The Rhetorics of Racism and Antisemitism. Routledge. New York. Wodak, R. Nowak, P., Pelikan, J., Gruber, H ., de Gillia, R., and Mitten, R. 1990. Wir sind alle Unschuldige Tter1 Diskorse historische Studien zum Nachkriegs antisemitismus. Suhrkamp. Frankfurt. Wofson, N. 1983. An Empirically-Based Anal ysis of Complimenting in American English. Sociolinguistics and Language Acquisition. Newbury House. Rowley, Mass.: 82-95. Wolfson, N. 1988. The Buldge: A Theory of Sp eech Behavior and Social Distance. In: Second Language Discourse: A Textbook of Current Research. J. Fine, (ed.). Ablex. Norwood, NJ: 21-38. Zimmer, H. 1911. Der Kulturgeschichtliche Hi ntergrund in den Erzlungen der Alten Irishen Heldensage. Berlin: Sitsungsbe richte der Konigslichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Zimmerman D.and West, C. 1975. Sex Roles, In terruptions and Silence in Conversations. Language and Sex: Difference and Dominance. In Thorne B. & Henley N. (eds.). Newbury House. Rowley. Zholkovsky, A.1971. Poems. In: Discourse and Lite rature. Van Dijk, T.(ed.). Benjamins. Amsterdam: 104-119.

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96 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Yekaterina Zimmerman was born in Vladivostok, Russia. She graduated from Moscow State University with degree in linguistics and English philology. She holds a Master of Arts degree in linguistics from the University of Florida. She is currently teaching academic writing at the Department of Linguistics, as well as an ESL reading /writing course at the English Language Institute. Upon completion of her doctoral work, she intends to continue her research in discourse analysis and medieval literature, as well as to continue teaching.


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FEMALE DISCOURSES: POWERFUL AND POWERLESS SPEECH IN
SIR THOMAS MALORY'S LEMORTE DARTHUR
















By

YEKATERINA ZIMMERMAN


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2005

































Copyright 2005

by

Yekaterina Zimmerman















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank the chair of my committee, Dr. Diana Boxer, for being my

mentor for all these years, for her guidance, emotional support and for having an answer

to every question and a solution for every problem.

My wholehearted thanks go to my committee members Dr. Will Hasty, Dr. D. Gary

Miller and Dr. Marie Nelson for all their kind help, support, guidance and

encouragement. This work would not have been possible without them.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS



A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ......... ......... .. ................................................................... iii

ABSTRACT ............... .......................................... vi

CHAPTER

1 IN TR OD U CTION ............................................... .. ......................... ..

O v e rv iew .................. .................... .................................................... .. 1
A Historical Outlook on Le M orte Darthur................................ ...................... 2
Methodology ................. ..............4......
N o te s ..........................................................................................................1 0

2 APPLICATION OF DISCOURSE ANALYSIS TO THE DISCOURSES OF
MALORY'S LE MORTE DARTHUR ...... ... ........................11

Introduction ..................... ... ..... ... ... .... .. ............................11
Speech Acts and Interactional Sociolinguistics ....................................................14
Ethnography of Communication and Conversational Analysis..............................22
C critical D iscourse A analysis ............................................... ............................. 27
C o n c lu sio n .............................................................................................. .................. 2 9
N o te s ...........................................................................................................................3 0

3 GENDER AND LANGUAGE IN LE MORTE DARTHUR........................... 31

In tro d u ctio n ............ ................................................................... .. 3 1
C conflict D discourse ...................... .................... ................ ........... .... 35
D defensive L language .............................. .......................... .. ........ .... ..... ...... 35
C conflict D discourse ...................... ...................... ... ......... .... ....... 39
Confrontation .......................................................................... ......... .................. 39
W om en 's T alk and T riviality ........................................................... .....................42
A dv ising D iscou rse........... ................................................................... ....... .......... .. 42
Iso d e's A dv ice ................................................................4 2
N aging ......... ................. .. .................................................. ......45
A dvice and C om plim ents ................................................ .....................................48
Guinevere' s A advice .................................. .. .. .... .. ............49
Arguing and the Triviality Issue ..................................... .................. 50
(Guinevere Lancelot) ............................................... .. ...... .. ............ 50









C o n c lu sio n ............................................................................................................. 5 2
N o te s ...................................................................................................................... 5 3

4 THE COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF POWERFUL AND POWERLESS
SPEECH IN MALORY AND THE SOURCES ................................................54

In tro d u ctio n ............................................................................................ ............. 5 4
Fem ininity and G ender Stereotypes......................................... ......................... 55
Pow erful and Pow erless Speech ................. ....................... ...................... ........... 56
Powerful and Powerless Speech Within the Theme of ............................................60
Powerful and Powerless Speech ............................................................ ............... ....70
Powerful and Powerless Speech within the Themes of Amour Courtois and
Earthly Love .......................... .................... 73
C on clu sion .................................................................................................7 8
N otes ........... .... ..... ...................... ........ ..................... ............... 78

5 CONCLUSION..................... ..................79

O v erv iew .. ................. ..... .. ................. ...........................................7 9
Limitations of the Research ........... ......... ......... ....... .........84
D directions for Further Research ............ .......................... ............... ...............85
C losing R em arks.......... .......................................................... ..................... 86

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ......... .......................................................... ...........................88

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E TCH ...................................................................... ..................96



























v















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

FEMALE DISCOURSES: POWERFUL AND POWERLESS SPEECH IN
SIR THOMAS MALORY'S LEMORTE DARTHUR

By

Yekaterina Zimmerman

December 2005

Chair: Diana Boxer
Major Department: Linguistics

This work provides a sociolinguistic discourse analysis of female discourses in Sir

Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur. Discourse analysis of power relations in female

speech incorporates the methodology of Ethnography of Communication, as well as the

Discourse-Historical method of critical text analysis, adopted for literary discourses.

Various approaches to discourse analysis, initially designed for the analysis of

spontaneous "live" conversations, were found applicable to the analysis of literary

discourses. Malory's style of narration differs from the story-telling tradition of his time

in that the emphasis is shifted from description to conversation. Contrary to the

assumption of marginality of literary discourses as invented rather than spontaneous,

discourse analysis of literary conversations contributes to the understanding of literary

meaning. In addition, the present analysis contributes to a better understanding of gender

differences in discourse and the role of power in female interactions through historical

perspective. Power relations, both implicit and explicit, are a driving force in all kinds of









verbal interactions in Le Morte Darthur. Powerless and powerful speaking styles are used

interchangeably by the female characters throughout the sequences of speech events.

Thus, powerless style of discourse is by no means typical of Malory's female characters,

unless used strategically in order to assert power.

Verbal interactions of female characters of Le Morte Darthur are analyzed in

various instances of speech behavior, such as advice, apology, conflict managing,

complaining, nagging and teasing. In mixed-gender communications, the patterns of

interaction frequently conform to the patterns established for modern male/female

communications by the studies on gender and language. This phenomenon attests to the

stability of the patterns through times and cultural variations.

Finally, the comparative analysis of female discourses, particularly the discourses

involving the concepts of earthly life and earthly love, reveals Malory's philosophy and

the profound message of Le Morte Darthur.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Overview

This dissertation provides a sociolinguistic discourse analysis of the speech of

female characters in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur. In particular, the present

study reveals and examines powerful and powerless features in the discourses of

Malory's female characters. The perception of women's speech by their interlocutors in

Le Morte Darthur is also analyzed in this dissertation.

A historic outlook on gender roles allows for a comparison of the uncommon roles

of Malory's heroines, as revealed by their verbal behavior, to the portrayal of women in

other literary texts from medieval era. Thus, this research incorporates the historic

perspective on gender roles, as well as the discussion of the concepts of power and

gender differences in language, and applying the methodology of discourse analysis,

attempts an in-depth analysis of the interplay of speech behavior, gender and power in Le

Morte Darthur.

Although there has been a great deal of work written on Malory in the field of

literary criticism as well as dialectology, there has not been a study that looks at Le Morte

Darthur from the point of view of discourse analysis. The importance of such analysis

becomes evident from even a brief examination of the misconceptions surrounding

Malory's work for over 500 years.









A Historical Outlook on Le Morte Darthur

Le Morte Darthur has received diverse and drastically disparate opinions and

interpretations since the time it was first published in 1485, fourteen years after Sir

Thomas Malory's death.1 Even Malory's first publisher William Caxton2 seemed

uncertain what to make of the book, as evident from his introduction/preface, in which he

instructed the reader to "Doo after the good and leve the evyl, and it shall brynge you to

good fame and renommee" [do after good and leave the evil and it shall bring you good

fame and reputation] (cited from 1899 edition: 2). Caxton cautiously added that "for to

pass the tyme this book shal be plesaunte to rede in, but for to gyve fayth and byleve that

al is trewe that is contained herein, ye be at your lyberte" (Ibid.: 2) [meaning that the

book is pleasant to read, but if you want to believe everything in it, you are at your own

risk].

One of the early critics, Roger Ascham, was less benevolent, stating that "in this

book those counted the noblest knights that do kill most men without any quarrel, and

commit foulest adulteries by subtlest shifts" (Ascham, 1570, cited in Strachey, 1899: 21).

Strachey (1899:23), praising the poetic qualities of the book, commented: "despite a

really different standard of morals from any which we should now holdup the writer

does for the most part endeavor, though often in but imperfect and confused manner, to

distinguish between vice and virtue, and honestly reprobate the former; and thus shows

that his object is to recognize and support the nobler elements of the social state in which

he lived."

Strachey does not elaborate on what he means by a "different standard of morals,"

but to give some idea of Strachey's own concept of moral standard, in his 1899 edition of

Le Morte Darthur he abridged all the scenes containing sexual connotations. Such









treatment of a literary masterpiece is a graphic example of what Cook (1994: 2) calls an

"unpleasant reduction of literature to the role of moral tutor or vicarious experience."

Although moral tutorship was a main purpose of western literature from the beginning of

Christianity to the XVIII century at least, it must be admitted that this function became

less prominent with time (Cook, 1994). It seems that modern readers, as well as film-

makers, still struggle to understand the moral principles behind Le Morte Darthur, though

moral dilemma is seen mostly in the adulterous affair of Lancelot and Guinevere, rather

than in the sexual content as a whole.

Eugene Vinaver (1954), in his unaltered edition of Malory's book, described Le

Morte Darthur as the revival of the heroic ideal of loyalty to a great cause3. He rejected

Walter Scott's widely known verdict of Malory's work as "extracted at hazard, without

much art or combination, from various French sources" (7). While most of the modern

literary analysts lean towards Vinaver's evaluation of the book in general, the female

characters and their roles in Le Morte Darthur still receive disparate, sometimes

incompatible interpretations. Malory's heroines are seen as either a threat to spiritual

endeavors (Mclnerney, 2001), or an embodiment of weakness and infidelity (Edwards,

1996; Wheeler and Tolhurst, 2001), or as destroyers of knights and the order of

knighthood (Fries, 1980; 1994), or else as mere witnesses of the deeds of honor

(Armstrong, 2003). It seems that the verbal behavior of the female characters is the main

source of the contradictory interpretations.

Male and female roles in Le Morte Darthur are seen as antipodal (LaFarge, 1992;

Armstrong, 2001; Gibson, 2001), with extreme masculinity of the knights and ultimate









femininity of the ladies, while any deviations from such formula are treated as a reversal

of sex-roles (LaFarge, 1992; Fries, 1996; Gibson, 2001).

The purpose of this dissertation, in addition to conducting a sociolinguistic

discourse analysis of the female speech behavior in Le Morte Darthur, is to address the

misconceptions concerning the roles of the female characters therein. Ultimately, the

findings of this study may contribute to the understanding of meaning of Le Morte

Darthur, in particular, the roles of women as revealed through the analysis of female

discourses.

Methodology

The present analysis of powerful and powerless attributes in the speaking style of

Malory's female characters incorporates methodologies of sociolinguistics and discourse

analysis.

Various approaches to discourse analysis are discussed and applied to the text

analysis, with a main focus on the methodology of ethnographic approach, which

emphasizes settings, contexts and social conventions, as components of discourse

analysis (Gumperz and Hymes, 1972; Hymes, 1974; Saville-Troike, 1982; Coulthard,

1985).

The historical context of interaction, introduced by Habermas (1970, 1971) and

incorporated into Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), in particular into the discourse-

historical method (Wodak et al., 1990; Titsher et al., 2000, and references therein), is

relevant to the present analysis. The historical approach to discourse analysis includes not

only an accurate record of settings and contexts, but also a requirement for the content of

the discourse to be confronted with all relevant historical facts and events (Titsher et al.,

2000: 159).









The methods of linguistic discourse analysis have been initially developed in

respect to conversational communication, while their applicability to literary discourses

was for a long time put to doubt by the speech act theorists (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1975).

Structural analysis of narrative as a form of discourse, the narratology (Todorov, 1969;

Greimas, 1970), emerged at the interface of anthropology, formal logic and cognitive

psychology as "the integrated study of all levels of narrative phenomena" (Pavel, 1985).

Pivotal for the narratology was the analysis of literary meaning. Derivable from abstract

description of intertextual structures, this analysis was first applied to folktale and myth

structures (Propp, 1928; Levi-Strauss, 1958). It was discovered within this line of

research that narrative could be understood as interaction of semiotic levels by

discovering the operations of transfer from deep structures to surface structures

(Chomsky, 1965; Greimas, 1970; Courtes, 1976).

Chomsky's (1965) concept of deep and surface structures, applied to the study of

literary meaning, plays an important role in the present analysis.

Another consequential theory for the literary discourse analysis is the structural

concept of mode and voice (Genette, 1972, cited in Pavel, 1985) referring to the narrative

distances, perspectives, and points of view ("who sees?" "who speaks?"). These concepts

presuppose that speech event is not a matter between speaker and addressee, but involves,

to various degrees, other components and participants. This approach provides for

recognition of variously distanced and focused narrators and hearers, such as the author,

the implicit or explicit narrator, the implicit or explicit reader, spectator and reflector

(Stanzel, 1979). From the point of view of this analysis, Malory's narration can be seen









not only as literary discourse between the author and the implicit reader, but also as an

implicit debate between Malory and his sources.

William Labov (1999: 231) also emphasized the reflexive nature of literary

meaning, stating that "pointless stories are met (in English) with the withering rejoinder;

'So what?' Every good narrator is continually warding off this question; when the

narrative is over, it should be unthinkable for a bystander to say, 'So what?"'

It has also been argued that the original intentions of the author do not constitute

the full meaning of a literary work, which is not solely created by the author, but supplied

by the reader (Beardsley, 1958). As such, the meaning depends on the current

conventions and changes in these conventions. In effect, the meaning evolves from one

generation of readers to another. This theory may explain the changing perceptions of

morality in Le Morte Darthur that vary according to the moral standard of the readers'

era.

As mentioned before, theories of discourse analysis appearing under the influence

of, or in parallel with, the structuralist narratology, pertained in the first place to

conversational communication. Their pragmatic objective has been the effectiveness of

verbal interaction in respect to the fore-planned purposes and the emergent goals of

individual speakers and the interactive system as a whole. Accordingly, Speech Act

Theory emphasized appropriateness (Austin, 1962, 1975; Searle, 1975) as a critical

evaluative variable for which a set of principles and maxims have been formulated

(Grice, 1975). Critical evaluation of this approach to the literary discourse analysis can be

found in Levin (1976) and Pratt (1977).









A supposedly alternative, but in many aspects complementary approach

commences, as Dell Hymes (1974:VIII) indicates, with the ideas of Sapir (1929), stating

that linguistics is in danger of becoming scholastic if not vitalized by the interests that lie

beyond the formal interests in language. One such vitalizing interest was found in the

application of linguistics to the study of human behavior, as a link between anthropology,

ethnography, sociology and psychology, known as the Ethnography of Communication.

In listing a number of "orientations toward language" that are essential for the

Ethnography of Communication, Hymes (1974:9) designates "the appropriateness of

linguistic elements and messages" to be added to the multifunctional concept of language

and "the community or other social context as starting point of analysis and

understanding." Returning to the appropriateness later in the discussion, Hymes

(1974:156) states that this property is, in fact, a relation between sentences and contexts,

requiring analysis of both. Moreover, the communicative conduct of community is seen

as a starting point of ethnographic linguistic analysis.

This approach is essential for understanding the meaning of the discourses in Le

Morte Darthur, as these discourses are rooted in the cultural and historic context. For

instance, the phrase "Keep thee" (or "Keep thee away"), frequently uttered by the knights

in Malory, and signaling the beginning of a joust, is entirely unintelligible without the

knowledge of the norms of interaction within this particular cultural event (i.e., the joust).

Without knowing the cultural and social norm of interaction, in this case, of the relevant

historic timeframe, it is impossible to determine whether the discourse participants are

violating these norms or adhering to them.









Another method of discourse analysis, the elements of which are incorporated in

this work, is Critical Discourse Analyses (CDA), a method of text analysis that identifies

literary meaning with social meaning, postulating a correlation between social and

linguistic structure (Fairclouth, 1989, 1992, 1995; an overview of philosophical and

sociological works that contributed to CDA can be found in Titscher et al., 2000).

Fairclouth (1995) convincingly demonstrated interrelation and the reciprocal

methodological impacts of intertextual analysis and discourse analysis.

A less politically committed, but more conscious of historical components branch

of CDA, the discourse-historical method (Wodak, 1990; Wodak and Reisiegl, 1999)

develops the concept of discourse as a complex cluster of simultaneous and sequential

thematically interrelated linguistic events occurring within a specific social field. This

methodology presupposes interconnectedness of discursive and other social practices,

giving a due attention to speech situations, the professional and social status of

participants, as well as their political commitments. It requires an accurate recording of

settings and contexts, a precise description of text at all linguistic levels, and, above all, a

comparison of the utterances with historical events and facts as well as their intertextual

analysis. Although the methodology of discourse-historical method is usually applied to

the studies of modern texts of political significance, the above mentioned techniques are

also applicable to the present analysis of historical novel, such as Malory's Le Morte

Darthur.

Literary meaning emerges at transition from deep to surface structure, for which a

variety of devices are used, among them structural and/or semantic reversals

(Zholkovsky, 1985). A reversal at the surface level becomes meaningful at the deep-









structure level. For example, Gibson (2001) interprets the tale of Gareth (Bewmaynes)

and Linet as a carnival reversal of male and female speech style, assuming that the

overpowering and derisive language of Linet is characteristic of masculine speech.

However, this interpretation only functions if derisive language is seen as an exclusive

feature of male language (see Chapter 4 for the discussion on gender and language).

In my view, powerful/powerless speaking styles are sometimes reversed in Malory

in order to reveal the deep structures of interpersonal relationships. In other words,

Malory's characters alter their verbal behavior, switching between powerful and

powerless styles, depending on the situation of the speech event, configuration of

participants, including the author, the reading audience and other factors, as demonstrated

in the following chapters of the present work.

Chapter 2, entitled "Application of Discourse Analysis to the Discourses of Le

Morte Darthur," demonstrates how different approaches to discourse analysis can be

combined and applied to the analysis of powerful and powerless female discourses. The

chapter aims to show that a combination of different approaches to discourse analysis is

beneficial to the present study. Chapter 3 discusses the issue of powerful and powerless

discourses in Le Morte Darthur in relation to gender differences in speech, and within the

framework of sociolinguistics and gender and language. Finally, Chapter 4 is a

comparative analysis of powerful and powerless female discourses in Malory's Le Morte

Darthur and the sources.

The dissertation concludes with an overview of the analysis herein, and offers

directions for further research, as well as a discussion of the limitations of the study.









Notes

1. Malory's work is entitled Le Morte Darthur in Caxton's first edition (1481), as
well as in Oscar Sommer's first complete modern script edition (1891), which is
the exact replica of Caxton's edition, except for the original Gothic script that has
been substituted by Sommer for modem script.

2. In this dissertation I quote from E. Vinaver's 1970 edition of Malory's book,
entitled "Malory." This edition slightly differs from Sommer's, as it is based not on
Caxton's first edition, but on a recently found Winchester manuscript of Malory's
work. The Winchester manuscript and Caxton's edition exhibit slight discrepancies
that are, in our opinion, unessential for this work.

3. Vinaver's edition differs from Sommer's, as it is edited by Vinaver in a way of
inserting punctuation marks and adding additional chapter titles. In my view, it is
important to use both editions for reference.














CHAPTER 2
APPLICATION OF DISCOURSE ANALYSIS
TO THE DISCOURSES OF MALORY'S LEMORTE DARTHUR

Than the quene seyde, 'I will take i/ ith me
such knyghtes as lykyth me beste.'
'Do as ye lyste ', seyde kynge Arthure.1
Le Morte Darthur
Introduction

In this chapter I apply the analytical frameworks of the Ethnography of

Communication and Conversation Analysis to the discourses of Malory's Le Morte

Darthur. I also incorporate in the analysis the elements of Speech Act Theory and

Interactional Sociolinguistics.

It must be noted that the analytical frameworks I refer to have been designed for

"live" discourses rather than for the analysis of literary text. Nonetheless, Fairclough

(1989) argues that textual analysis involving a simultaneous analysis of content and form

or "texture" of the text is, in fact, a part of discourse analysis. While analyzing

Shakespearean literature, Coulthard (1985) also suggested that a detailed analysis of

authorial technique and stylistic features can be more successfully achieved within a

rigorous linguistic framework. Indeed, it is important to consider the role and

participation of the author in verbal interactions of the text when applying discourse

analysis to the analysis of literary text. The methodology of Ethnography of Speaking

defined by Hymes (1962) may be particularly effective in analyzing the author's

participation in literary discourses, as ES framework recognizes five major participant

roles: addresser, addressee, speaker, hearer and audience. While the literary characters









are engaged in the addresser addressee interaction, the author and the reader assume the

respective roles of a speaker (or "speaker for another") and the audience. In a relevant

argument Pratt (1977) notes that Grice's (1975) co-operative principle (which includes

the maxims of relation, quality, quantity, and manner, requiring the speaker to be

relevant, clear, consistent and parsimonious in keeping with the purposes of

conversation) can be applied to both author reader interaction and to the interactions of

discourse participants of the literary text. Just as "live" participants of discourse often

violate Grice's cooperative principle, so do the participants of textual discourses. As Pratt

(1977) and Coulthard (1985) have shown, such violations are crucial for discourse

analysis, as they are often intentional. In Coulthard's example from Othello, while being

interrogated by Othello, Desdemona systematically violates the maxims with an "off-

record" purpose of acquitting Cassio.

Literary texts are dependent on social and historical resources, which are defined

by Bakhtin (1986) as genres, a mixture of which often occurs within a text. In the case of

a historical novel, it is inevitable that the discourses are created by the author or borrowed

from the period sources or a mixture of sources relevant to the described events. In

Malory's case, there are virtually no authentic sources of the period to which his heroes

are assigned (that is the 5th or 6th centuries, known as the "Dark Ages"). The earliest

historical or pseudo-historical accounts of these periods of time appeared in the 12th

century, while their allegedly Celtic sources are either lost or non-existent. The literary

sources from which Malory drew his material were mostly of Armorican Briton or

Norman origin (Bruce, 1987). However, the contents of the above sources, particularly

the discourses, were greatly altered or composed in their entirety by Malory (who thereby









became a participant in these discourses). It seems likely that Malory also adopted the

communication styles of his 15th Century contemporaries for the verbal interactions of

his characters, thus adding a distinguishable historic timeframe to their discourses. It is a

situation similar to what Kristeva (1986) describes as "the insertion of history into a text

and of the text into history."

The application of the modern methods of discourse analysis to the verbal

exchanges of Le Morte Darthur reveals the use of verbal contextualization cues, identity

display, face-work, conversational competence of the openings, sustenance, and other

discourse features addressed in this chapter.

Power is another phenomenon "brought into play through discourse" (Hutchby,

1999). According to Foucault (1977), power is an interactive concept, a potential that is

not merely possessed by an agent, but reinforced, accepted or resisted by the others. In

Medieval society the distribution of power was largely determined by the social status.

Those of noble status were instantly recognized by their dress or heraldic bearings and

treated accordingly. Perhaps for that reason, or rather in spite of it, Malory (himself a

nobleman) seemed to be in favor of the situations in which the knights of noble birth

(such as Sir Gareth) would disguise their identities, thereby choosing to take no

advantage of their high social status.2 Such masquerades allow for various instances of

miscommunication, numerous misunderstandings, jokes, and arguments.

Moreover, on the level of author audience communication, the masquerades

could be Malory's way of hinting to the reader that true identities of the historical persons

depicted in the novel are hidden behind the masks. In the words of Helen Cooper (1996:

265), "there is more going on in Le Morte than meets the eye." Thus, for diverse reasons,









Malory's characters at times display their identities, while at other times find it best to

conceal them. In a similar way, the social status in Le Morte Darthur can be displayed or

downplayed, depending on the purpose of the interaction and the participants.

King Arthur in Le Morte Darthur is the founder of the Round Table, the symbol of

equality; hence, Arthur often downplays his royal status in the verbal exchanges with the

knights of the Court to demonstrate his equality with the knights. In contrast, the

principal female characters, such as Queen Guinevere (King Arthur's wife), Queen

Morgouse of Orkney or Dame Linet frequently display their high social status in their

interactions. Yet another heroine, Queen Isode of Ireland, renounces her royal status for

the sake of her lover Trystram, but maintains a high position in society due to her

extraordinary communicative competence (as discussed in the following section, entitled

"Speech Acts and Interactional Sociolinguistics"). Thus, Malory's characters exhibit

differences in verbal behavior that are not only gender-related, but also idiosyncratic.

Speech Acts and Interactional Sociolinguistics

Speech act theory stems from philosophy of language. It was initiated by J. Austin

in How To Do Things With Words (1962). Austin distinguished constative utterances

from the performative ones. Unlike the constatives that simply provide information, the

performatives create a world, in which a certain action can be performed by the speaker

or the hearer. The truth/falsity criterion is applicable to constatives, because they describe

world with words, but not to the performatives, which create world with words. The

theory was further developed by J. Searle in "Speech Acts" (1962) and subsequent work.

Searle has defined speech acts more broadly as basic units of communication. Central to

the theory, as expounded by Searle, is the principle of expressibility: whatever can be

meant can be said, while the intention of an utterance can be deciphered by a hearer who









has a sufficient linguistic competence. Speech acts provide information (words relate to

world), impose directives on the hearer (words create world, in which the hearer is

expected to perform an action), or commit the speaker to a certain action. The speech act

taxonomy is based on these functions with a set of rules defining each class of speech

acts. By applying the taxonomy of speech acts and the rules of defining individual speech

event, Schiffrin (1994) showed that the speech act methodology is a powerful tool for

analyzing multifunctional utterances. Questioning, for example, elicits the addressee to

provide information that creates a "preparatory condition" for an action or a sequence of

verbal responses committing the conversationalists to perform an action. As Austin

(1962) has asserted, "it is always necessary that the circumstances in which the words are

uttered should be in some way, or ways, appropriate, and it is very commonly necessary

that either the speaker himself or other persons should also perform some other actions."

Austin viewed locution and illocution as abstractions only, stating that "every genuine

speech act is both," thus, in a way, linking Speech Act theory to Interactional

Sociolinguistics. However, Searle's expressibility principle presupposes that with a

proper illocutionaryforce any intention can be made explicit.

In his pioneering work on application of linguistic discourse analysis to literary

discourse, Ohmann (1971) has claimed that Speech Act theory does not apply to literary

"quasi speech acts," because literary speech acts lack the illocutionary force attached to

spontaneous speech acts. Yet verbal exchanges ofLe Morte Darthur often include

performative and even constantive speech acts in which locution, the actual words used

by the speaker, differs from illocution, the speaker's intention behind the utterance,

which to Austin (1962) constitutes a definition of illocutionaryforce. In the following









example a knight called Sir Bendaleyne initiates a verbal exchange with a passing knight

by a performative speech act in which the force of the utterance does not fully correspond

to the literal meaning of its components.

"Thau shalt nat passe this way, for other thou shalt just with me othir ellys be my
presonere."

[You shall not pass this way, for either you shall joust with me or else be my
prisoner.]

Sir Bendaleyne seems to be offering his opponent (Sir Gareth of Orkney) a choice

between jousting and becoming a prisoner; however the illocutionary force of his

perfomative utterance is that of a challenge to a joust. It is perfectly clear to both the

speaker and the hearer that the alternative voluntarily becoming a prisoner is

unacceptable and, moreover, offensive to any knight. Thus, or else be myprisoner is not

a valid alternative, but more of an insult or a threat. The entire utterance is

multifunctional as it contains a challenge and a provocation by way of insult and/or a

threat.

Only two lines of text describing the course of the joust separate the above

performative speech act from the constative speech act informing us that mortally

wounded Sir Bendelayne "rode forth to his castell there beside, and there dyed" [rode to

his castle and there died]. This constative is short and precise; it is entirely unambiguous

and there is no situation in which it can be misinterpreted. Nevertheless, in discourse

there is scarcely an utterance that is "just said" in a way of description without any

implicit meaning behind it. A rapid transaction from Bendelayne's insolent challenge to

the author's brief description of Bendelayne's impending death may be Malory's way of

telling us that Bendelayne got what he deserved (Bendelayne insulted the other knight for

no reason, challenged him to a fight and, subsequently, suffered a disastrous defeat).









De Capua and Boxer (1999) describe a pattern of male interactional behavior,

which is realized in insults, put-downs and one upmanship, as verbal dueling or jousting.

This pattern is well pronounced in the text ofLe Morte Darthur, where male characters

often participate in verbal jousting that transgresses into physical combat. Of course, it is

usually the counter-heroes rather than the heroes that initiate confrontational behavior, as

shown in the above example.

Verbal jousting for the sake of jousting, or in other words, insulting a stranger with

a sole purpose of creating a conflict, is a concept entirely alien to the female characters of

Le Morte Darthur. The women often seek to recommend themselves to others, impress

each other favorably and achieve solidarity through discourse (on solidarity in discourse

see Wolfson, 1988, Coates, 1993, Boxer, 2002).

Isode, the Queen of Ireland, wishes to "recommaunde" herself "into quene

Gwenyvere" and introduces herself to Guinevere with the following words,

(2) "There be within this londe but four lovers, and that is sir Lancelot and dame
Gwenyver, and sir Trystrames and quene Isode"(267).

[There are within this land but four lovers and that is sir Lancelot and dame
Guinevere and Trystram and quene Isode].

From the point of view of Speech Act theory, Isode's constantive utterance fails the

truth criterion (because there are bound to be more than four lovers in the land). Yet it is

not Isode's purpose to inform Guinevere of how many lovers are there; her utterance has

a symbolic meaning as a component of socializing behavior. Isode wishes to demonstrate

her solidarity with Guinevere, the Queen of England by pointing out the similarity of

their situation: both queens are in love with their knights. But as far as power is

concerned, the two queens are not on equal terms. Isode renounced her royal status when

she left her husband King Mark for Trystram, and now she finds herself in a powerless









situation, which makes her turn to powerful allies. Isode seeks Guinevere's acceptance

and approval by showing her own acceptance and approval of the English Queen. In that

sense, Isode's message may also be considered a positive politeness strategy, a concept

described by Brown and Levinson (1989) as a desire to project a positiveself-image and

to be treated as a member of an "in-group." In this case, the speaker's own words define

the desired in-group as the group of four lovers of high social status, in which the speaker

wishes to be included. Thus, Isode's utterance (2) exemplifies verbal behavior the

meaning of which can only be decoded through its contextualization.

Contextualization of discourse is the focal point of Interactional Sociolinguistics

initiated by John Gumperz's work on conversational inference as a situated (context-

bound) process and by Goffman's analysis of discourse as a form of social interaction

(Goffman, 1967 and subsequent work cited in Schiffrin, 1994; Jaworski and Coupland,

1999; Boxer, 2002).

This approach draws from anthropology and sociology, emphasizing the roles of

prosodic and paralinguistic contextualization cues (Gumperz, 1977).

Speech Act Theory also recognizes indirect speech acts (as those in which form

does not match the intention), but does not fully account for symbolic value of speech. It

considers situational cues (Ibid.) as marginal to what is said. In contrast, Interactional

Sociolinguistics deals primarily with these aspects of verbal communication. Insofar as

any speech act intention is modified in respect to anticipated behavior of other

participants, all speech acts are multifunctional and are to a certain degree indirect. Their

multiple meanings are revealed by relating them to a linguistic system of social

interaction. The interpersonal conventions, ambiguity, avoidance devices, face saving and









risk taking aspects of linguistic behavior are the means by which the discourse

participants are aligned (or realigned) according to their roles in defining the

conversational framework and accepting it. For instance, interrogative form can be

employed in directives, reminders, in nagging, and in other speech acts widely different

from information requests (Boxer, 2002). The differentiation of meaning depends on

contextualization cues: the non-verbal signals that are intuitively decoded, as well as the

verbal signals, such as the details of intonation, and also lexical and syntactic choices.

Errors in decoding of the meaning lead to miscommunication as in the exchange between

King Arthur and Sir Lancelot, which concerns the undiscovered identity of a knight in

disguise. Arthur guesses that Lancelot knows who the mystery knight is, when Lancelot

remarks:

"Have ye no mervayle, for ye shall ryght well know that he is com of full noble
bloode-"(200)

[Do not be surprised, for you shall right well know he is of noble blood].

Arthur misreads the contextualization cues of the above remark and expects

Lancelot to reveal the identity of the knight. But Lancelot is bound to keep the secret and

only wishes to state that soon the knight's identity will be revealed to Arthur by the

knight himself.

In further construction of the dialogue between Arthur and Lancelot, the two

speakers participate in "face work," i.e. the participants desire to save one's own face or

the face of the others and to avoid committing a "face threatening act" (Goffman, 1967;

Brown and Levinson 1987). Face work is often realized through the language of hint,

innuendo and ambiguities, which gives the participants a choice "to act as if they have

not received the message contained in a hint" (Goffman, 1967).









(3) "Hit semyth by you," seyde kynge Arthure, "that ye know his name and from
whens he corn"

[It seems by you, said King Arthur that you know his name and from where he
came].

"I sippose I do so, seyde sir Launcelot, "or ellys I wolde not have yeffyn hym the
hyghe Order of Knyghthode, but he gaff me such charge that I woll never discover
hym-"

[I suppose I do so, said sir Lancelot, or else I would not have given him the high
Order of Knighthood, but he gave me such a charge that I will never discover him].
(210)

Arthur's statement "It seems by you that you know his name" is not interrogative

by form, yet it contains 1) an implicit question, which would be analogous to "do you

know his name?), 2) a request for information "what is his name?" and, considering that

Arthur's royal status gives him power over his interlocutor of lesser social status- 3) a

directive "tell me his name." There is also something of an embedded reproach "you

know his name but you would not tell me." In his reply Lancelot addresses all aspects of

Arthur's multifunctional utterance. "I suppose I do so, answers the question "do you

know his name," which was implied but never actually asked. "Or else I would not have

given him a High order of Knighthood" is a clarification of "I suppose I do so. What

follows next "but he gave me charge not to discover him" diverts Arthur's implicit

directive (3). A direct refusal to satisfy Arthur's curiosity would have constituted a face-

threatening act. Therefore, Lancelot is using an oblique face-saving form of denial. In his

turn, Arthur chooses to withdraw his inquiries before a potential threat to Lancelot's face

occurs. Both interlocutors are performing an avoidance ritual (Ibid.) in which a great deal

of face-saving work is involved. Refusals are not likely to be considered a solidarity-

establishing speech behavior, yet they "can serve to affirm or reaffirm a relationship"

(Boxer, 2002, p.52, see also Beebe, et al., 1985). In this case, King Arthur and Lancelot









are friends both of whom possess an extremely high, yet not entirely equal, social status.

An imbalance of status creates a delicate situation in which it is easy for one speaker to

cross the boundaries by imposing on the other. Their friendship largely depends on the

recognition of each other's face needs, which is why Arthur takes no advantage of his

own more powerful status but chooses an indirect form of questioning over an explicit

directive. Thus, even though refusal is a speech act that generally carries a negative

semantic label (Ervin-Tripp, S. 1976, Beebe, et al., 1985, Boxer, 2002), a carefully

worded refusal reaffirms Lancelot's friendship with Arthur.

Notice also the informal nature of the conversation: Arthur addresses Lancelot

simply as "you" and Lancelot uses no elaborate forms of address such as 'My Lord" or

Fair Sire" that were commonly used when addressing the King. Coulthard (1985) notes

that in Shakespearean time, 16th century, "you" was the form of address of equals, while

"thou" was usually reserved for addressing a person of inferior status. It is evident that in

Malory's time, a century before Shakespeare, the distinction between the two pronouns

has already acquired its social significance. Lancelot forgoes the formalities when

addressing the King, while Arthur displays the social equality of the two of them by his

choice of "you."

Queen Guinevere, in a dialogue with her lover Lancelot, begins her speech by

addressing Lancelot as you (ye), thus treating him as equal in status, as in "but ever ye ar

oute of thys court" [you are always away from this court]. Yet as the conversation

progresses she switches to calling him thou. This alteration is not accidental; in the

course of the conversation the Queen becomes angry with Lancelot, and wishes to display

the social distance between herself and her knight.









(4) "Sir Launcelot, now I well understonde that thou arte a false, recrayed knight
and a common lechourere, and lovyste and holdiste othir ladies and of me thou haste
dysdayne and scome. For wyte thou well, now I undirstonde thy falsehede I shall
never love the [thee] more, and loke thou be never so hardy to com in my syght.
And ryght here I dyscharge thee thys court, that thou never com within hit, and I
forfende thee my felyship, and uppon payne of thy hede that thou see me
nevermore!" (612)

[Sir Lancelot, now I understand that thou art a false knight, who loves and holds
other ladies. Now I understand your falsehood I shall never love thee again, do not
come in my sight. I discharge thee from this court, never come within it, and upon
pain of thy head thou see me never more].

Guinevere consistently uses "thou" to emphasize the superiority of her royal status

by addressing Lancelot as inferior. Moreover, there are no face-saving strategies in the

Queen's speech, which is extremely direct and face threatening to Lancelot. He produces

no reply and, although not at fault, makes no attempt to explain himself. The direct nature

of the interaction (4) is in sharp contrast with Arthur's dialogue with Lancelot (3) where

the participants manage to avoid confrontation by speaking the language of innuendo.

Yet in both examples the participants use no cooperative strategies to sustain the

conversation that ends abruptly, while the matter is left unresolved. The maintenance of

conversation is the point of interest of Conversational Analysis discussed in the next part

of the chapter, where it is compared to the ethnographic approach to discourse.

Ethnography of Communication and Conversational Analysis

The methodology of ethnographic discourse analysis aims to discover how

communicative competence (part of it accomplished through language) is embedded in

culture, our most comprehensive communication system. The analytic grid for

Ethnography of Communication founded by Dell Hymes (1962) is known as

SPEAKING, which is an abbreviation for setting, participants, ends (goals), act sequence,

key, instrumentalities (forms of speech and non-verbal accessories), norms (of social









interaction), and genre. These items of ethnographic discourse analysis are perceived as

categories existing prior to the beginning of discourse and, subsequently, reflected in the

text of discourse (Schiffrin, 1994).

In contrast, the approach known as Conversational Analysis (CA) does not accept

anything as pre-existing categories (being there before the beginning of discourse),

focusing instead on organization of the talk as a creative process in which the context

emerges from the text (Schegloff and Sax, 1969). CA reflects on subtle conversational

features that bear on unfolding of the talk, while the participants' competence is

manifested in the managing of the process itself. CA methodology highlights the

problem-solving activity related to opening, sustaining (turn-taking, topic change/repair)

and closing of discourse. From a CA point of view the sociolinguistic variables that

existed before the conversation has begun, such as extralinguistic factors, are irrelevant.

Although CA and Ethnography of Communication are commonly presented as

alternative approaches to discourse, they may not be mutually exclusive (Schiffrin, 1994;

Boxer, 2002). The techniques of opening and closing formulas, turn-taking, construction

of adjacency pairs revealed by CA are of considerable importance as elements of

communicative competence grounded in cultural environment.

In Le Morte Darthur the conversation openings, for instances, are often inquiries,

such as (4):

"What is his name," seyde sir Tristram, "and of what blood he come?"

[What is his name and of what blood he came?].

The inquiries may also contain a reprove (6):

"What, sir, know ye nat me?"

[What, sir, don't you know me?],









or they may constitute an insult or provocation (7):

"A, sir Beawmaynes! Where is thy corrayge become "

[Ah, sir Beuwmaynes! What happened to your courage?].

Forms of address used in an opening of conversation depend on the extent of

politeness the speakers wish to express towards each other. In a mixed gender

conversation, polite forms of address are the ones combined with a compliment, as in the

following exchange (8):

"Fayre damesel', seyde sir lancelot, 'know ye in this contrey ony adventures nere
hande?"

[Fair damsel, said sir Lancelot, know you in this country any adventures in hand?].

A complimenting epithet "fair" added to a form of address "damsel" or "madam,"

is a common formula for addressing women in a mixed gender interaction. Men use

"fair" when addressing each other as well, as in "Fayre Syre," "Fayre brother" (when

talking to a brother), or even "Fayre fellow" (when talking to a commoner, not a

nobleman). Women also use this formula (fayre Madame, fayre sir or fayre knight);

however they seem to use the compliment "fair" less frequently in mixed gender

exchanges. In a conversation between an unnamed woman and Lancelot where nearly

each conversational turn begins with a form of address by the convention of the time -

forms of address used throughout the conversation form a peculiar pattern.

(9) "Sir, she seyde, ...but and ye woll be ruled by me I shall helpe you out of this
dystresse, and ye shall have no shame nor velony, so that ye wol my promise.

Fayre damesel, seyde sir Lancelot, I granted ye; but sore I am of thes quenys
crauftis aferde, for they destroyed many a good knight.

Sir, that is soth, they here of you and they woll have your love. And sir, they sey
you're name is sir Launcelot du Lake, the floure of knyghts and they be passyng
wroth with you that ye have refused hem. But, sir, and you wolde promise me to









helpe my fadir that hath made a turnemente betwyxt hym and the kynge of North
Galys... I shall delyver you.

Now, fayre damesel, telle me your fadirs name, and than shall I gyff you an
answer.

Sir Knyght, my fadyrs name is kynge Bagdemagus that was foule rebuked at the
last turnemente.

I knowe your fadir well, seyde sir Launcelot, for a noble kyng and a good knyght,
and by the fayth of my body, your fadir shall have my sercyse, and you both at that.

Sir, gramercy, and tomorne loke ye be redy betymys and I shall delyver you....

Damesel, I shall nat fayle, by the grace of God. (152).

[Sir, I shall help you out of this distress if you make me a promise.

Fair damsel, I grant you, but I am afraid of these queens' crafts, for they destroyed
many good knights.

Sir, that is so. They heard of you and they would have your love. And sir, they say
your name is sir Lancelot of the Lake, the flower of knights and they would be very
angry because you refused them. But sir, if you promise me to help my father at the
tournament between him and the king of North Galis... I shall deliver you out of
prison.

Now, fair damsel, tell me your father's name, and then I shall give you an answer.

Sir Knight, my father's name is king Bagdemagus who lost at the last tournament.

I know your father well, said sir Lancelot, he is a noble king and a good knight, and
by the faith of my body, your father shall have my service, and you both at that.

Sir, thank you, and tomorrow be ready and I shall deliver you....

Damsel, I shall not fail, by the grace of God].

The forms of address in the above dialogue are the following:

Damsel: Sir-

Lancelot: Fayre damesel-

Damsel: Sir- Sir -Sir-

Lancelot: Fayre damsel-

Damsel: Sir knight-sir-









Lancelot: Damesel-

The damsel does not use the epithet "fair," though the nature of her talk with

Lancelot is quite friendly. Lancelot is, at first, consistent in adding 'fair" to the form of

address, but in the closing of the conversation he abandons the compliment part of the

formula and simply addresses his female interlocutor as "damsel." In this case the damsel

is in a more powerful position than Lancelot because he is imprisoned (by the "queens'

crafts"), while the damsel has the power to release him. Even though the damsel and

Lancelot begin the conversation as strangers, during the course of the exchange they find

common ground for interaction and develop a relational identity (Boxer, 2002) which

facilitates the process of building solidarity. The rapport between the two speakers

develops with every conversational turn. They express their mutual dislike of the

villainous queens, as well as their good opinion of the damsel's father "a noble kyng and

a good knyght" and, finally, they agree on helping each other. The damsel asks the knight

only to help her father, but sir Lancelot demonstrates his good will towards the damsel by

offering to be of service to her as well as to her father, "your fadir shall have my sercyse,

and you both at that." The bonding of Lancelot with the damsel may be reflected in the

change of Lancelot's form of address: an inadvertent adjustment to the speech of the

interlocutor, known as convergence (Giles and Robinson, 1989). According to the

accommodation theory (Ibid.) the participants may converge with each other during their

interaction by altering their speech behavior and adopting the speech behavior of the

interlocutor, as in the case of the damsel and Lancelot.

In the analysis of the above conversation I combined the techniques of CA with the

ethnography of communication concepts including the cultural norms for addressing an

interlocutor.









Critical Discourse Analysis

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) sees language as an instrument of various social

practices (ideological, political, racist or sexist). Insofar as unequal power relations

established in various spheres of social life are reproduced in discourse, CDA addresses

the instances of discursive display of power. The approach is similar to the Ethnography

of Communication, but the focus of CDA is on the ideological or political content of the

text (Foucault, 1971, 1979; Wodak, 1992; Van Dijk, 1993).

The sociolinguistic characteristics of the participants (their gender, social status,

etc.), as well as the setting and cultural norms of behavior are relevant to the

understanding of the next extract from Le Morte Darthur. In addition, certain ideological

standpoints of the author emerge in the analysis of the next example, (9). Prince Gareth

of Orkeney in disguise is mistaken for a kitchen servant by his traveling companion

Dame Linet. When a knight (their host) is about to seat the two travelers at the dining

table, Linet objects to sitting next to Gareth:

(9)"Fy, fy', than seyde she, sir knyght, ye ar uncurtayse to sette a kychyn page
afore me" (183). [Fie, fie, sir knight, you are uncourteous to seat a kitchen servant
in front of me].

Linet accuses the host of being uncourteous to her and objects to what she

perceives as a serious violation of social conventions. In medieval society the seating

arrangement at a dining table was a status-reinforcing procedure. A 14th Century poem

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight provides a detailed account of the order and place that

each knight occupied at King Arthur's dinning table. The Round Table is not mentioned

in the poem, whereas in Le Morte Darthur it plays an important role as a symbol of

equality. For the Arthurian knights in the poem their place at the dining table corresponds

to their ranking at the royal court. According to the same custom, Dame Linet insists on









her high status being observed by the proper seating at dinner. The story of Linet and

Gareth may have appeared in Malory's sources as an episode in the genre of Amour

Courtois (courtly love), by the rules of which a chivalric lover endures insults and

humiliation from his lady to prove his love for her. However, Malory, an obvious

proponent of the Round Table concept, turned the story into a social satire in which he

mocks certain medieval customs, such as the seating ceremony a display of social

inequality.

It is not clear if Malory's patronage of the Round Table equality extended to the

ideas of social equality, because his hero Gareth in not an actual servant but a knight of

royal lineage, King Arthur's own nephew. Notably, Malory must have been on good

terms with the working classes, when he was imprisoned his bail was paid by a London

tailor and a saddler (from the records in Hicks, 1928)3.

In another exchange from the same episode, Linet and Gareth meet a knight in

black armor, who insults Gareth the moment Linet points to the low social class of the

latter (10).

"Damsell, have ye brought this knight from the court of kynge Arthure to be your
champion?"

"Nay, fayre knyght, this is but a kitchen knave that was fedde in kyn Arthurs
kychyn for almys."

Than sayde the knight, 'Why commyth he in such aray? For hit is shame that he
beryth you company."

[Damsel, have you brought this knight from the court of King Arthur to be your
champion?

No, fair knight, this is but a kitchen knave that was fed in King Arthur's kitchen.

Than said the knight, why comes he in such array? For it is shame that he bears you
company.]









Linet humiliates Gareth by calling him "kitchen knave," while the Black Knight

exhibits an equal amount of prejudice towards the lower classes by his words, "It is

shame that he [Gareth] bears you company." Though, in fact, Linet and the knight merely

follow the conventions of the medieval society to which they belong.

Conclusion

In the above analysis I attempted to show to what extent various approaches of

discourse analysis can be applied to the study of the discourses of Le Morte Darthur.

Speech Act theory does not account for the symbolic value of speech, which presents the

same difficulties for the analysis of the literary discourses as it does for the analysis of

spontaneous speech. Interactional Sociolinguistics studies the meaning created in the

process of interaction (Thomas, 1995), which is relevant to the interactions of Le Morte

Darthur. However, certain non-verbal contextualization clues, such as the details of

intonation and tempo of speech are unavailable in this case. Conversational Analysis

takes no account of the sociolinguistic variables, which are in a case of a historical novel

inseparable from the content of the conversations. Nonetheless, CA can be successfully

applied in combination with Ethnography of Communication, the latter approach being,

perhaps, the most equipped for the analysis of the literary text of historical significance.

The verbal interactions in Malory are deeply grounded in sociocultural context of a wide

historic timeframe from the Dark Ages to the late medieval era. Critical Discourse

Analysis can only be applied with that timeframe in view. For instance, the distribution of

power in the Middle Ages corresponded to the social stratification by class; thus it would

unrealistic to expect the literary discourses of that time period to reflect any different

model of society. As asserted by Fairclough and Wodak (1997) "utterances are only

meaningful if we consider their use in a specific situation, if we understand the









underlying conventions and rules, if we recognize the embedding in a certain culture and

ideology, and most importantly, if we know what the discourse relates to in the past."

Taken out of context, the episode ofLe Morte Darthur, in which Lancelot is

wounded by a huntress, is interpreted (LaFarge, 1992; Mclnemey, 1996) as an allegorical

conflict, signifying Lancelot's and the author's fear and hatred of women, combined with

suppression of femininity on the author's part (see more on the Huntress in Chapter 5).

Yet such view of female/male relationships in Le Morte Darthur is based on a one-page

scene of Malory's work, while completely disregarding hundreds of pages upon which

the relationships of the principal characters, such as Guinevere and Isode, are traced

through their interactions with male characters. That is not to say that the Huntress

episode is entirely unimportant, but in order to draw patterns of gender roles in Malory, it

hardly suffices to take just one example of mixed-gender interaction into consideration. It

is perhaps not incidental that Malory himself, in his postscript to Le Morte Darthur,

urged his audience to read the book "from the begynnynyng to the endynge" [from the

beginning to the end], as if predicting that passages of his book taken out of context could

be severely misinterpreted.

Notes

1. The epigraph translates:
Then the Queen said, 'I will take with me such knights as I like best.'
'Do as you wish', said King Arthur.

2. In addition to the story of Bewmaynes (Sir Gareth), there is a somewhat similar tale
of a young nobleman who keeps his identity a secret and consents to be called Le
Cote Male Tayle (the ill-shapen coat). Lancelot and Trystram also frequently
disguise themselves for diverse reasons but typically to prevent their fame from
preceding them at jousts.

3. In Malory's time it was uncommon for a nobleman to find such devoted friends in
the lower classes. If Malory harbored any ideas of social equality, such ideas would
have certainly been strongly opposed by the ruling classes.














CHAPTER 3
GENDER AND LANGUAGE IN LE MORE DARTHUR

"I suppose that we were senate for that I should be dishonoured. Wherefor, husband, I

counceille yow that we departed from hens sodenly.... "

Le Morte Darthur

Introduction

This chapter focuses on the concepts of power and gender differences in language

and provides a sociolinguistic analysis of the speech of female characters in Sir Thomas

Malory's Le Morte Darthur. In particular, the study examines to what extent the

discourses of Malory's heroines fall into the category of powerful or powerless speaking

style. It also looks into the way women's speech is received by their interlocutors in Le

Morte Darthur.

The historic events of Malory's lifetime are closely associated with two remarkable

women, Joan of Arc and Margaret of Anjou, who became the Queen of England and

reigned during the War of the Roses1. Though Malory wrote about much earlier times,

the intrigues and battles of the War of the Roses transpire through the pages of Le Morte

Darthur. In a similar way, Malory's unconventional and controversial portrayal of female

characters may reflect the powerful presence of the above mentioned historic heroines of

Malory's time.

Many scholars see Le Morte Darthur as a masculinistt work" (Armstong, 2003).

Edwards (1996) asserts that Malory failed "to treat the feminine" content of his French

sources (see discussion on sources in Chapter 4). Noguchi (1981) notes that women of Le









Morte Darthur sound manly and defiant. The speech style of both female and male

characters is described as terse, dignified and restrained (McCarthy, 1988). These

features of speech are perceived as masculine, which allows for the common assumption

that Malory disregarded the feminine way of speaking. LaFarge (1992) speaks of the

"repressed femininity" in Le Morte, and describes Malory's text as "something of a

rearguard action in defense of the wholeness, the public, the masculine" (1992:18).

However, in modem studies on Gender and Language the question of what

constitutes women's speech as opposed to men's speech is an issue of continuous debate.

Robin Lakoff in her pioneering work "Language and Woman's Place" (1975) suggested

that man's language is forceful, assertive and direct, while woman's way of speaking is

unassertive, immature, less direct and more polite. Subsequent studies, (such as O'Barr

and Atkins, 1980) argued that the true distinction lies in the distribution of power, and it

is a matter of powerless vs. powerful language rather than women's or men's language

(on power and gender issue in discourse also see Bergvall, 1996, Boxer, 2002).

Furthermore, Freed (1992) and Troemel-Ploetz (1994) have asserted that the view of

"cultural differences" (Maltz and Borker, 1982, Tannen, 1990) in mixed-gender

conversations disregards the issue of patriarchy. The cultural differences point of view

has been disputed by many feminist linguists, who assert that society subjects women to

subordinate roles, which affects their use of language.

Fishman (1983) notes that women who take control of conversation are often

"derided and doubt is cast on their femininity." They are often considered "abnormal"

and terms like "castrating bitch," and "witch" may be used to identify them (Fishman,

1983: 99).









When I compare the findings of modern gender studies like Fishman's to

references from medieval texts, a strong similarity emerges revealing a consistency in

attitudes to women in powerful roles. Meekness and obedience were encouraged in

women of Middle Ages (Bornstein, 1978). Women were expected to speak the powerless

language and act accordingly. Deeply rooted stereotypes of gender-appropriate behavior

addressed by modern scholars of Gender Studies are often seen in their extreme form in

medieval texts. Words like "abominable," "witch" and "manly" were used by medieval

historians (Hall, 1548) to describe Joan of Arc. The following reference to Joan from

Holinshed (1577: 134) condemns her "man-like" behavior,

"...shamefullie rejecting hir sex, abominablie in acts and apparel, to have
counterfeit mankind, and to be an instrument of witchcraft and sorcerie."

Queen Margaret, who possessed strong leadership skills, was also compared to a

man, "This woman was of stomack and courage more like a man than a woman" (Hall,

1548: 68).

It is clear that having courage or "haute stomack" (having guts, as we would say

now) was considered a man's priority. Another quote from Hall describes the uncommon

personality of Queen Margaret, and also reveals a strong prejudice against women of

unyielding temper,

The Queen was a woman of great wit and yet of no great wit, of haute stomack,

desirous of glory, covetous of honor and of reason, policy, council, and other gifts and

talents of nature belonging to a man. But yet she had one point of every woman: for often

when she was vehement and fully bent in matter, she was suddenly like a wethercock,

mutable, and turning" (79).









The heroines ofLe Morte Darthur are likewise controversial but no judgement is

passed upon them. Malory assigned complex and controversial roles to his female

heroines, whose speech is often perceived as masculine. Conventional gender roles also

exist in Le Morte but the conventions are challenged by the female characters. I assert

that Malory empowered the speech of the female characters, and it is their uncommonly

powerful speaking style that is at times mistaken for the suppressed femininity. As

Bergvall (1996) states, women who display assertive and forceful speech behavior, by a

notion of gender dichotomy, would be considered "less feminine, and thus, aberrant or

deviant" (1996:192).

The Oath that the Knights of the Round Table take before entering into the Order

states that the knights are "allwayes to do ladies, damsels and jantilwomen, and widowes

socour." This (Malory's) version of the Oath, notably different from the Oath of the

sources, is often seen as a representation of Malory's own view on gender roles.

However, the meaning of the Oath, as well as Malory's conception of gender roles that

the Oath possibly entails, has received disparate interpretations. According to Armstong

(2003), the word always in the Oath implies that ladies are always in need of knight's

succor, which makes women ofLe Morte Darthur helpless and vulnerable, and reinforces

the masculinity of the knights. Armstrong's view of polarized gender roles in Malory, in

particular the ultimate femininity of women, somewhat contradicts the previously

mentioned opinions stating that female characters ofLe Morte Darthur appear manly and

defiant and speak the way men do.

Yet, this study challenges both Armstrong's view of ultimately feminine women in

Le Morte Darthur, as well as the opposite view that sees Malory's heroines as perversely









masculine (discussed above). In fact, in his treatment of the Oath, Sir Thomas Malory

engages in direct dispute with his sources. In the sources, the protection of the Church is

the core purpose of Knighthood. Sir Thomas radically changes the Oath, making the

protection of women the main reason for joining the Order. As I see it, the emphasis of

the oath is on the concept of women, whereas always is used to enhance the permanent

nature of the Oath, rather than the condition of women.

The present analysis leads to the conclusion that female personages in Malory are

neither deprived of femininity, nor are they 'damsels in distress'. They are strong women

struggling against the conventionally powerless position assigned to them by their

gender. The combination of powerful and powerless speaking styles of women in Le

Morte Darthur occurs in various types of speech behavior. This chapter analyzes the

verbal behavior of Malory's heroines in situations of conflicts, confrontations, apologies,

advice-giving, nagging, and arguing.

The following section, focusing on conflict discourse, is divided into two

subsections: Defensive Language and Confrontation.

Conflict Discourse

Defensive Language

One of the favorite topics of medieval literature is a helpless damsel in distress

rescued by a chivalric knight (Bruce, 1958). The female characters in Malory, however,

are capable of defending themselves. Their speech disarms their opponents, resolves

conflicts and dismisses potentially dangerous animosities. At the same time, every one of

Malory's heroines (Igrayne, Isode and Guinevere) has her own distinct style of resolving

potential or actual conflicts.









A better understanding of the discourse of conflict comes from the field of

psycholinguistic research. A study of conflicts between people of diverse cultural

backgrounds has revealed eight styles of conflict management: dominating, integrating,

compromising, avoiding, obliging, emotional, neglecting and "third party help" (Ting-

Toomey et al., 2000; Hamford, 2003). A choice of one or another style depends on such

psychological variables as independent versus interdependent behavior and the

interrelated face concerns, including the concerns of self-face, other-face and mutual face

(Goffman, 1967). It is found by Hamford (2003) that persons with a tendency to act

independently prefer direct, as well as integrating conflict management, whereas those

tending towards interdependent behavior are inclined to use an indirect style in addition

to integrating and compromising. Face concerns are most important for the

interdependent behavior category. In particular, a concern for others face may result in

conflict avoidance, while the concern for self face is related to integrating and

compromising.

These factors play their roles in conflicts the participants of which are Malory's

leading female characters: Igrayne, Isode and Guinevere. The narrator's voice hardly

describes the personalities of these heroines directly (with few exceptions, such as a

"little mention" about Guinevere that she was a "true lover" (609). Their characters

emerge through sequences of speech events, but perhaps most expressively, through

speech behavior in the events of conflict and confrontation. For example, Igrayne and her

husband are invited to King Uther's court, when Igrayne uncovers the true purpose

behind that invitation:

"I suppose that we were senate for that I should be dishonoured. Wherfor, husband, I
conceille yow that we departed from hens sodenly" (3).









[I suppose that we were sent for that I should be dishonored. Therefore, husband, I
council you that we depart from here suddenly].

In terms of conflict managing, Igrayne's words may be described as the conflict

avoidance style, which is characteristic of a person with a strong tendency to act

interdependently.

In the following example, Queen Igrayne, King Arthur's mother, is true to her

conflict avoidance style when she has to defend herself against unjust accusations.

When Igrayne, comes to court for the first time, Arthur wonders why his mother

abandoned him in his infancy and never came forth to reveal his true lineage. Knight

Ulphuns accuses Igrayne of being treacherous and dishonest; her reaction is as follows,

"I am a woman and may nat fyght; but rather than I should be dishonoured, there
wolde [would] som man take my quarell. But', thus she seyde, 'Merlion knowith
well, and ye, sir Ulphuns, how king Uther com to me into the castle of Tyntagyl in
the likeness of my lorde that was dede three oweres [hours] tofore, and there begate
a chylde that night uppon me... And I saw the chylde never aftir, nothir wote
[knew] nat what ys hys name; for I knew hym never yette."(31)

Igrayne's first utterance, "I am a woman and may nat fyght," emphasizes her

compliance with the era's expectations of female weakness. However, not all heroines of

Le Morte Darthur would agree with Igrayne's statement (that women may not fight). For

instance, Isode's mother, who disliked Trystram, at the sight of him "gryped that swerde

in hir honde fersely [gripped the sword fiercely], and with all hir myght she ran streyght

upon Trystram" (238). This warlike mother is very different from Arthur's mother,

Igrayne. The difference can be explained by Igrayne's powerless position in life. King

Uthur, Arthur's father, makes Igrayne his wife after killing her husband, and gives

Igrayne's infant son Arthur to Merlin. Yet Igrayne endures it all with honor and dignity,

which indicates a considerable strength of character.









In her next utterance, "but rather than I fhold be difhonoured," the use of the word

dishonour is noteworthy, as it signifies the beginning of powerful discourse. The

conception of honor is usually applied differently to women and men. Woman's honor is

associated with chastity, while men's honor has to do with character. In the same way, to

dishonor a woman implies a sexual assault, but man's dishonor is damage to his image.

For instance, in Shakespeare's Henry VI, Bedford says, 'Lord Talbot do not so dishonour

me', when Talbot hints the former is too old to fight. In Malory, Launcelot exclaims,

"What have I done? For now I am dishonoured," as he finds himself fighting his best

friend. In the beginning of Le Morte Darthur, Igrayne is, in fact, in danger of rape, and

back then she says, "I suppose that we were senate for that I should be dishonoured." But in

the episode with Arthur mentioned above, Igrayne speaks of dishonor in a "masculine"

sense: she is in no sexual danger but she is unjustly accused.

Thus, the latter use of the word dishonour signals a turning point in Igrayne's

speech from powerless style of speaking to powerful language. Yet her plead for a knight

to fight for her brings her back to the powerless role of a damsel in distress. After what

seems like a short pause, where the author's words are inserted, Irgayne resumes

powerful speech: she is assertive, direct, informative, and she defends herself so well that

an assistance of a knight is no longer needed the case is closed.

Of all Malory's heroines, Igrayne, the women of the older generation in Le Morte

Darthur, seems closest to the stereotype of weak women victimized by powerful men and

obedient to their will. Yet her verbal behavior in a situation of a conflict gives evidence

of a complex personality, and a strong capacity for resolving conflicts. Interestingly,

Igrayne manages to defend herself without offending anyone or assigning a direct blame









to anyone, which shows concern for the others face a distinct characteristic of a conflict

avoidance style.

Conflict discourse

Confrontation

As mentioned in the previous section, studies on conflict (Ting-Toomey et al. 2000;

Hamford, 2003) distinguish several distinct styles of conflict management, which are

interrelated with other behavioral characteristics, such as dependant/independent

behavior.

In the following example of conflict discourse in Le Morte Darthur, a confrontation

occurs when Queen Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur, is attacked by the army of Prince

Mellyagaunt, who claims to be in love with the Queen. At the time of the attack the

Queen is "on Mayinge" (meaning she is taking part in May festivities), while the knights

that accompany her are unarmed and, therefore, unprepared for the defense. The Queen

takes it upon herself to manage the unavoidable conflict.

Guinevere's style of conflict managing, remarkably distinct from that of Queen

Igrayne's, can perhaps be described as the direct conflict managing style. This is a

dominating, forceful and emotional style, characteristic of a person with highly

independent nature.

It is indicative of Guinevere's tendency to act independently that neither her

husband, King Arthur, nor any other principle male character, but the Queen herself

organizes and manages the festivities. Guinevere's desire to stay in charge is in

accordance with her dominating conflict managing style. Even though, in this case, the

Queen finds herself in a powerless position, she manages to regain her power by means

of powerful discourse.









Thus, when the attack occurs, Guinevere instantly decides to confront Mellyagaunt,

"Traytoure knight," seyd Gwenyver, "what caste thou to do? Wolt thou shame
thyselff?... Thou shamyst all knighthood

and thyselffe and me. And I lat the wyte [I let thee know]

thou shalt never shame me, for I had levir kut myne owne throte in twayne [rather
cut my own throat] rather than thou sholde dishonoure me!" (650).

The Queen begins her speech by accusing Mellyagaunt of treason and uses no

polite forms of address or any other strategies that would soften the impact of her speech.

Her language is strong and assertive. She batters her attacker with questions and

accusations: her utterance "Wolt thou shame i1h)y-\j? is an accusation in a form of a

question. Yet, as if feeling that the question form is not direct and assertive enough and

might lessen the power of her utterance, she rephrases the same accusation, which is now

in a form of a statement, "Thou shamyst all knighthood and il y-'ljf' and me."

Mellyagaunt, enraged by her powerful language (perhaps he expects her to act

more like a helpless damsel in distress), retorts "I have loved you many a yere, and never

as now cowde [could] I gete you at such avayle [get you at such disadvantage/. And

therefore I woll take you as Ifynde you [I will take you as I find you]" and proceeds with

the attack. The Queen decides to negotiate,

"Sir Mellyagaunt, sle nat [slay not] my noble knights and I woll go with thee upon
thys covenaunce [I will go with you upon this condition] that thou save them and
suffir hem no more to be hurte, wyth this that they be lad [led] with me
wheresomever thou ledyst me... [wherever you lead me]" (651).

Here Guinevere uses a more polite form of address, but her language is still

powerful. She makes it clear that she negotiates not because of weakness, but in order to

save her knights from being killed, "sle nat [slay not] my noble knights. By her strong

language she manages to convince Mellyagaunt that she is in a powerful position: she is









the one who dictates the conditions, "Iwoll go / ith thee upon thys covenaunce

[condition]." Guinevere becomes a prisoner in Mellyagaunt's castle; nonetheless, she

manages to maintain her powerful status, as seen from her dialogue with Launcelot

(below).

When Launcelot comes to Mellyagaunt's castle to fight for Guinevere, she once

again refuses to play the part of damsel in distress. She greets Launcelot with a question,

"Sir Launcelot, why be ye so moved [distraught]?" (655). Guinevere's question implies

that she is in no distress, but it is Launcelot who is in distress. Moreover, it implies that

there nothing to be distressed about. Launcelot is bewildered by her question and its

implications: he answers her question with a question, "A! madame, why askye me that

question? Guinevere makes it clear that she has the situation under control, "all thynge

ys put in myne honde [hand]." What Launcelot does not know is that just as he entered

the castle, Mellyagaunt panicked and surrendered to Guinevere ("holy Iput me in your

grace "), begging her to "rule" Launcelot. Thus, Guinevere is now in a complete charge

of the situation, having power to rule both her enemy and her defender.

The Queen never admits to Launcelot that his arrival had any effect on the events

because that would shift the power from her to Launcelot. When Launcelot tells her that

his horse was killed by Mellyagaunt's archers, Guinevere softens her speech and thanks

him heartily, "Truly, seyde the quene, "ye say throuthe, but heartely I thanke you. As

for the enemy, Guinevere uses her power to the uttermost. In the subsequent scene she

urges Launcelot to fight Mellyagaunt to the death. Queen Margaret too was merciless to

her enemies in the War of the Roses. She had the rebellious Duke of York beheaded and









his severed head brought to her on a lance (see also Chapter 5, for the comparison of

Guinevere's speech/role in this episode and its sources).

Thus, Guinevere's powerful verbal behavior, exhibited throughout the above

confrontation sequences is consistent with her direct and dominating style of conflict

management.

Women's Talk and Triviality

Women's talk has been often regarded as trivial (Coates, 1993). In medieval

literature such a stereotype was frequently reinforced by the female characters who spoke

in cliches and offered advice by quoting familiar proverbs. A woman in the Book of the

Knight ofLaTour advises her daughters against being amorous by citing a proverb of the

time, "kysynge is nyghe parent and cosyn vnto the fowle faytte or dede" [kissing is a

parent of foul deed]. Of course, not every proverb is a cliche, but the fact is that original

comments are often reserved for the male characters, while the female characters only get

to repeat what was said by someone else or recite common sayings, which reinforces the

stereotype of triviality of women's speech.

In Malory's work female characters possess an uncommon wisdom; however, their

good advice is often disregarded by their male interlocutors. Thus, the intellectually

empowered women of Le Morte Darthur do not conform to the stereotype of being

trivial, yet they have to struggle against that stereotype.

Advising discourse

Isode's Advice

Advising discourse is an interactive communicative process (DeCapua and

Dunham, 1993), as it involves a person giving advice and advice seeker. However, within

the speech event of advice-giving, advice is often unsolicited, or in other words, proffered









without having been asked for (Boatman, 1987; Banerjee and Carrell, 1988). Even the

studies on solicited advice (DeCapua and Duham, 1993: 521) show that more usual than

specific requests for advice are vague requests, or implicit requests that are expected "to

be evident from the description of the problem." It may be inferred from these findings

that problem-telling, which can also be considered a form of indirect complaining, is a

type of verbal behavior that prompts the offering of advice. But it is not always the case,

as studies reveal evidence of distinct gender differences (Boxer, 1993), as well as

differences related to social distance (Wolfson, 1988) in responses to troubles-telling and

indirect complaining. Boxer's (1993) study indicates that women are far less likely than

men to respond to an indirect complaint with advice.

In the example below, Malory's heroine Queen Isode offers advice to her lover Sir

Trystram in response to his indirect complaint, though it is clear from the context of the

exchange that her behavior is more of an exception than the rule. The conversation

between Isode and Trystram occurs when the latter comes back from the tournament and

notices that something is wrong with Isode.

"Madame, for what cause make ye us such chere? We have bene sore travayled all
this day. [had a difficult day]"

"Myne owne lorde, seyde Le Beall Isode, For Goddys sake, be ye nat displeased
wyth me, for I may none othirwyse [otherwise] do. I sawe thys day how ye were
betrayed and nyghe brought unto you're dethe... [nearly brought to your death] And
therefore, sir, how sholde I suffir in you're presence such a felonne and traytoure as
ys sir Palomydes? [how should I tolerate in your presence such a felon and traitor
as sir Palomydes?]" (460).

Trystram asks Isode what is the matter, and without waiting for her answer

reproaches her, as he expects a cheerful greeting after a hard battle. His inquiry

"Madame, for what cause make ye us such chere? We have bene sore travayled all this

day. [had a difficult day]" contains an indirect complaint (about having a difficult day









and not receiving a proper greeting). But Isode is anxious because she single-handedly

uncovered an intricate plot concocted by a false friend Palomydes to kill Trystram. She

starts with an elevated form of address and an extensive apology: these features belong to

the powerless language. 'Myne owne lorde, is a form of address more appropriate for a

person of a higher status, yet on a social scale Isode 'outranks' Trystram, for he is a

knight and she is the Queen of Cornwall. Likewise, her apology is unnecessary, as she

has done nothing wrong. Perhaps Isode is being excessively polite to erase the status

difference between her and her beloved Trystram. She seeks to express her love and

appreciation for her interlocutor by using overly polite language, which can be

considered a "positive politeness" strategy (on positive politeness see Brown and

Levinson, 1987). Her warm, gentle words, "-' l j owne lorde, be ye nat displeased iiyh

me, for I may none otil1iiliy do, emphasize her soft and wise nature; and they also

signal the beginning of powerless discourse. Yet what follows next are strong words of

condemnation for Palomydes ("felonne and traytoure ") pronounced with great courage in

the very presence of the treacherous knight. Isode's speech becomes direct and

straitforward, "I sawe thys day how ye were betrayed, (like Queen Margaret she could

probably be described as a woman of 'haute stomack'), as she switches to powerful

discourse. The combination of soft, overly polite language that occurs in the beginning of

Isode's speech and the powerful style of the main part of her message conveys her

conflicting emotions. Indirectly, she advises her knight to get rid of the "traytoure

Palomydes." But Trystram pays little attention to Isode's words (could it be that the

powerless start weakened the total effect of her revelations?). He quickly accepts









Palomydes' apology and says, "Noforse! [=It does not matter] Allyspardonnedas on

my party.

It is possible that Isode's important speech does not receive the attention it deserves

because of the triviality stereotype mentioned above: woman's speech is stereotypically

regarded as trivial. It is evident from the author's comment, "Than La Beall Isode hylde

down her hede and seyde no more at that tyme, that Isode (and the author) is not

satisfied with the outcome of the exchange, (she "seyde no more at that tyme implies

that there was more to say on the subject and "Isode hylde down her hede means she

was not satisfied with the outcome of the conversation).

Malory's intelligent Isode is also a complex and unconventional character: "the

fayrest and pyerles of all ladyes" [the fairest and peerless of all ladies] she denounces her

royal status and leaves her husband King Mark of Cornwall for her lover sir Trystram.

Her verbal behaivour is equally unstereotypical. As Trudgill (1972) suggests, women

display their social status through signals of status in their speech. However, in this case,

Isode downplays her social status for the sake of achieving solidarity with her

interlocutor.

Nagging

Diana Boxer's (2002) in-depth analysis of nagging in regard to power relations

describes nagging as a complex verbal behavior including elements of griping,

complaining, reproaching and scolding. The prevalence of one or another element, as

well as the frequency of nagging in general, depends on such sociolinguistic variables as

gender, social distance and a degree of certainty of relationships between the participants

of a speech event. Nagging, presupposing a certain degree of intimacy between the









interlocutors, often occurs in couples talk, as in the following sequence taking place

between Isode and Trystram,

"I mervayle me much [I am much surprised] that ye remember nat youreselff how
ye be here in a strange contrey [that you do not remember yourself that you be
here in a strange country], and here be many perelous [perilous] knights, and well
ye wote [you know] that kinge Mark is full of treson [treason]. And that ye woll
ryde thus to chace and to hunte unarmed, ye myght be sone [soon] destroyed."

"My fayre lady and my love, mercy! I woll [will] no more do so" (416).

Isode's form of address "ye" is informal and not overly polite as in the previous

dialogue. However, her utterances are indirect and wordy, possibly undermining the

importance of her speech. Her 'indirectness' makes her speaking style powerless. It is

possible that Isode intentionally weakens the force of her utterances so that they would

not sound like orders. By downplaying her royal status (out of consideration for

Trystram's lower status) she undermines the power of her utterances. However, Isode

starts her speech with "I mervayle me much [I am much surprised]"; she does not use

any terms of endearment or elevated forms of address in the beginning of this talk, as she

did in the beginning of the previous ones. Perhaps Trystram senses the lack of positive

politeness in her speech. His response is peculiarly emphatic: he is jokingly using two

forms of address at once ("My fayre lady and my love "), and an exaggerated apology

("Mercy "[pardon me]) before agreeing to do what she asks. It seems he perceives her

speech as a sort of nagging. Nagging, presupposing a repeated request and a reminder,

may take a form of an interrogative, though its illocutionary force is that of a directive

(Boxer, 2002). Isode's utterance includes request and a reminder "I mervayle me much

that ye remember nat youreselff... [I am much surprised that you do not remember

yourself...]," and certainly has the force of a directive. Trystam clearly does not perceive

her speech as a mere request or he would not have offered her an apology.









By definition, nagging is a sequence starting with a request, followed by a reminder

or more than one reminder, and, if the goal is not achieved, ending in reproach or

scolding. In Malory, the narrative never presents a complete nagging sequence.

However, it is mentioned on more than one occasion by the author that Trystram found

himself in dangerous situations because of his habit of not wearing armor and, eventually,

that habit costed him his life. Thus, it seems as if on the level of "deep structures" the

author nags his hero through the words of Isode, as both the author and Isode wish to

prevent the forthcoming tragedy. In what can perhaps be called implicit nagging, the

author transfers his own knowledge of the pending events to his heroine, yet leaving

Trystram entirely oblivious of what is to come. Later in the narrative we find that

Trystram once again neglected to wear armor, despite of his agreeing with Isode's advice

("I woll [will] no more do so") in this episode.

Isode's advice in this case, however sound and useful, can have the illocutionary

force of nagging if it was perceived as such by Isode's interlocutor (Boxer, 2005:

personal communication). Trystram's resistance to following Isode's advice may not be

accidental. In couples talk it is women who are frequently naggers (Boxer, 2002),

possibly because men are "inclined to resist even the slightest hint that anyone, especially

women, is telling them what to do" (Tannen, 1990: 31). Isode resorts to nagging probably

because her requests are too easily dismissed. The triviality stereotype plays its role here:

women's speech is expected to be trivial, and men are not expected to take woman's

words too seriously, thereby confirming Zimmerman and West's assertion that men often

"deny equal status to women as conversational partners" (1975:125).









Advice and Compliments

DeCapua and Dunham in their "Strategies in the discourse of advice" (1993)

ascribe to the advice givers three major goals: to help the receivers clarify their problems,

to assist them in exploring their options, and to offer directions in regard to their future

actions. These strategies and goals are, in fact, complementary, and they are all present in

the next advice given by Isode to Trystram. In this exchange between the two lovers,

Isode points out to Trystram the potential consequences of missing Arthur's feast,

"Ye that ar called one of the nobelyste knights of the world and a knight of the
Rounde Table, how may ye be myssed at that feste [feast]? For what shall be sayde
of you among all knights? A! See how sir Trystram huntyth and hawkyth, and
cowryth wythin a castell wyth hys lady, and forsakyth [forsakes] us. "

"So God me helpe," seyde Trystram unto La Beall Isode, "hyt ys passyngly well
seyde of you [it is very well said of you] and nobely counseyled [advised]. And
now I well undirstonde that ye love me." (506).

Isode starts her speech with the compliment "Ye that ar called one of the nobelyste

knights of the world and Trystram responds by complimenting her on both her speech

"hytys passyngly well seyde ofyou" and on her advice "and nobely counseyled

[advised]. As often before, Isode gives Trystram thoughtful advice, but in this case her

words are uncommonly well received. Trystram not only praises her speech but also

suddenly realizes that Isode loves him "And now I well undirstonde understandt] that ye

love me, even though no words of love were spoken in this case. Isode's suggestions are

not dismissed: they are taken seriously and appreciated. Her words are not perceived as

trivial. It seems that the compliment, which Isode paid to Trystram, played a crucial role

in his perception of the entire message of her speech.

Various studies on compliments have concluded that women give and receive more

compliments than men (Wolfson, 1983, Holmes, 1988). The subjects of compliments also









vary according to gender of the speakers: women tend to compliment each other on

appearance, while men prefer to be complimented on skill or possessions (Wodak, 1981,

Tannen, 1991, Coates, 1993 and references therein). Isode's compliment to Trystram

"the nobelyste knights of the world" touches upon his knightly skills; thus it is well

received in concordance with the compliment theory.

Guinevere's Advice

Isode is not the only female in Le MorteDarthur who possesses a talent for advice

giving. There are the three wise women who "teche" [teach] the knights "unto strong

adventures" and many other episodical female characters with problem solving abilities.

The knights often have a problem recognizing each other when in armor, but the women

can always tell who is who. Are these women more intelligent or simply more observant?

In a relevant example, Queen Guinevere gives her lover Launcelot an advice, but

her advice sounds more like a warning. Queen Guinevere advises Lancelot to identify

himself to his kinsmen at the tournament to avoid any mistaken identities. Her advice,

however, is given in the form of a royal command:

"I warne you that ye ryde no more in nojustis nor turnementis but that you're
kynnesmen may know you, and at thys justis that shall be ye shall have of me a
slyeve of gold." [I am warning you not to ride to any jousts or tournaments unless
your kinsmen know you and at these jousts you shall have my sleeve of gold].

"Madam," seyde Launcelot, "hit [it] shall be done" (642).

Guinevere uses no politeness strategies or terms of endearment to downplay her

superior status. On the contrary, she emphasizes her dominant position by the

commanding manner of her speech. I warned you, sounds almost like a threat. Yet the

triple negation that follows adds emotional overtones to her utterance making her true

feelings transpire through her seemingly cold and hard language. She is seriously worried









about Launcelot, who at a previous tournament fought nearly to the death with his own

cousin without knowing it. She also offers Launcelot her sleeve, a common token of

affection in chivalrous world, though Guinevere bestows her favor in an uncommonly

forceful manner. It is obvious from Launcelot's reply that he is not too pleased with her

speech he does not thank her for the offer but his reply is courteous as always. Queen

Guinevere has no wish no reduce the status difference between herself and her knight

Launcelot; because of her powerful position her advice is unquestionably followed.

Guinevere would not allow her speech to be perceived as trivial or to be disregarded.

Arguing and the Triviality Issue

(Guinevere Lancelot)

As mentioned before in this chapter, the discourse of arguing is now a thoroughly

studied field ofpsycholinguistic research. However, in this case, the verbal behavior of

arguing is analyzed in connection with the concepts of triviality and women's speech.

One aspect of interest for my analysis of Guinevere's argument with Lancelot is

conflict behavior in regard to face maintenance: the self-face, others face and mutual face

concerns. It has been found by Hamdorf (2003) that such concerns are correlated with the

direct/indirect conflict management styles that include dominating, compromising,

emotional re-enforcing, as well as with psychology of independent versus interdependent

personalities. Face concerns are crucial for the conflict situations, in particular for the

persons with a tendency to act interdependently, owing to their sensitivity not only to

their self-face, but also to the others face (Hamdorf, 2003).

Guinevere's speech behavior gives an impression that the psychology of conflict

has scarcely changed over 500 years. It seems Guinevere possesses a distinct direct

(dominating and emotional) conflict managing style. Her speech shows a complete









neglect of the mutual face, disregard of the face needs of the others, and little concern of

self-face, which can be expected of a person with a strong tendency to act independently.

In the following episode, arguing occurs because Guinevere is jealous as Lancelot

spends less time with her, since he is fighting for other women's causes. In return,

Lancelot reminds the Queen how much he has sacrificed for her, how often he fought for

her and how he has lost the Grail Quest ("I was but late in the quest of .,ink gi el/F)

because of her. Yet all this is clearly not what the Queen wanted to hear, as evident from

her subsequent verbal behavior.

She "braste oute wepynge... and when she myght speke she seyde [and when she
might speak she said],

"Sir Launcelot, now I well understonde that thou arte a false, recrayed knight and a
common lechourere, and lovyste and holdiste othir ladies, [love and hold other
ladies] and of me thou haste dysdayne and score. For wyte thou well, now I
undirstonde thy falsehede I shall never love the [thee] more, and loke thou be never
so hardy to com in my syght [never come in my sight]. And ryght here I dyscharge
thee [from] thys court, that thou never com within hit [never come within it], and I
forfende thee my felyship, and uppon payne of thy hede [upon pain of your head]
that thou see me nevermore!" (612)

Because of Guinevere's angry words and powerful (though groundless)

accusations, "false, recrayed knight," she, perhaps, would have been called manly,

vehement, and mutable, like Queen Margaret. Her speech is extremely powerful, yet she

shows an unlikely weakness and breaks into tears, "braste oute wepynge" (perhaps it is

something of a stereotype that a woman displays her emotional state of mind by

weeping). The Queen struggles to regain her strength by using her entire artillery of

orders when in five different ways she forbids Launcelot to see her (e.g. "I dyscharge

thee [from] thys courte" and "I forfende thee my felyship"). Though by her repeated use

of negation (never is used four times in one sentence) she seems to be negating her own

words. No one, with the exception of Launcelot, believes that she meant it all. One of the









knights comments, "Women in their hastynesse woll [will] do oftyntymes that aftir hem

sore repentith [they do what they afterwards strongly regret]." Though Launcelot does

not share that knight's opinion, it seems Guinevere's weeping makes her lose some of her

powerful status: the knight's comment "Women in their hastynesse" refers to her gender,

not her royal status. The imbedded message of the knight's comment is that Guinevere's

speech is not important, because it is tentative (her decision is not definite, she is going to

change her mind later on). In the words of West and Zimmerman (1987) gender is a

"master status," which explains why Guinevere's power is constantly questioned, despite

of her royal status. Once the Queen loses some of her power by showing weakness (her

tears), her speech is perceived as insignificant and trivial.

Conclusion

This chapter's analysis of powerful and powerless speech incorporated the historic

perspective on gender roles, as well as the strategies and methodology of discourse

analysis and sociolinguistics, allowing for an in-depth study of the interplay of speech

behaivor, gender and power in Malory's Le Morte Darthur.

The main female characters ofLe Morte Darthur possess unique and complex

personalities; strong, passionate, defiant of conventions, they are, at the same time,

vulnerable. They are vulnerable not because they are weak but for the very reason of

being too strong, too proud and unconventional. The conflict between their personalities,

their roles, and the social constraints of their gender is reflected in their language,

particularly in the interchangeable use of powerful and powerless speech styles. Much

like historical characters of Malory's time, Joan of Arc and Queen Margaret of Anjou, the

women of Le Morte struggle against the age-old stereotypes and conventions.









Meekness was commonly encouraged in women of Middle Ages. In marriage,

women often had no say in choosing their marriage partners. Igrayne's forced marriage to

king Uthur, who killed her husband, is the invariable beginning of the Arthurian legend

(because King Arthur was born out of that union). Igrayne's powerless position in the

beginning of Le Morte Darthur is a reflection of the unbound repression of women

during the Dark Ages and in the early Middle Ages. For instance, in 13th century German

Romance "Lanzelet" (in Paton, 1929)

The hero consecutively marries Iblis, Ade, Galagadreiz and other maidens, and

overtakes their castles after killing their fathers or uncles. In Le Morte Darthur, Isode

rebels against the forced marriage by leaving her husband for Trystram; and Guinevere

chooses Launcelot as her love interest. The rebellious nature of Malory's heroines is

realized in their rejection of a common medieval model of feminine verbal behavior,

consisting of meekness and silence (as "silence was synonymous with obedience,"

Coates, 1993: 35).

Thus, a historic outlook on gender roles also allows for a comparison of the unique

roles of Malory's heroines, as revealed by their verbal behavior, to the stereotypical

portrayal of women (and their language) in medieval era.

Notes

1. Margaret of Anjou (often considered the successor of Joan of Arc, who was burnt
at the stake in 1431), married King Henry VI, and thereby became the Queen of
England in 1445. Margaret's marriage entailed a treaty between England and
France, upon the conditions of which several French provinces (owned by England
before the treaty) were restored to France. Subsequently, it was Queen Margaret
who governed the Lancastrians in the defense of the throne against the Yorkists, as
King Henry lost his mind, perhaps by the influence of horrific events preceding the
War of the Roses.














CHAPTER 4
THE COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF POWERFUL AND POWERLESS SPEECH IN
MALORY AND THE SOURCES

Thus, angel or demon, virgin or whore, Mary or Magdalen,
woman is the stage on which the age enacts its
own enduring morality play.
Angela Leighton, Because men made the laws.

Introduction

Medieval Arthurian literature gave the evolution of women's role a truthful

rendering, as it incorporated the spiritual life of ten centuries. The ancient Arthurian

legends were created by the Celtic tribes of the British Isles, and spread over Europe by

the Armorican Britons who fled to the continent in 5th and 6th centuries under the

pressure of Anglo-Saxon invaders (reviewed in Bruce, 1958). These legends have

inspired the 12th century masterpieces of Geoffrey of Monmouth, Wace and Chretien de

Troyes, as well as the 13th century poems by Robert de Boron and the French prose cycle

(the Vulgate), the 14th century "Morte Arthure," 'Sir Gawain and The Green Knight" and

other romances. The voluminous Vulgate Cycle contained the most comprehensive

anthology of Arthurian sources from which Sir Thomas Malory has drawn most of his

material. Yet Malory replaced the accumulative style of the Vulgate by the dynamic

narrative style of his own. Moreover, he made countless additions and alterations to the

source material, thereby creating the great Arthurian epic, "which, but for Malory, would

not have been." (Vinaver, 1970: 5). The alterations made by Malory are particulalry

important to the present analysis as they allow for a comparison of Malory's portrayal of

female characters to their counterparts in the Vulgate Cycle and their prototypes in the









earlier Arthurian literature. The focus of this chapter is on the changing role of women in

Malory' s Le Morte Darthur.

Femininity and Gender Stereotypes

Lynch (1995) claims that Malory denied women any role except as spectators. The

role of the heroines of Le Morte Darthur was also described as passive by Fries (1996),

who argues that only the counter-heroines are active, pervasively assuming a male role.

Elizabeth Edwards in her article "The Place of Women in The Morte Darthur" (1996)

suggests that Malory failed "to treat the feminine" content of his French sources. In this

she echoes LaFarge's (1992: 76) assertion of Malory's repressed femininity, the

"leakage" of which is embodied in the Lady Huntress (who accidentally wounded

Lancelot). But did Malory suppress the femininity of his characters or did he, in fact,

empower them? Guinevere of the prose Lancelot might seem more feminine (in

comparison to Malory's Guinevere) but she is just an object of chivalrous adoration in the

tradition of French medieval romance. Malory's powerful female characters challenge the

deeply rooted stereotypes of gender-appropriate behavior. In the same way, the

conventions were challenged by the historic heroines of Malory's lifetime, Joan of Arc

and Margaret of Anjou, who became the Queen of England and reigned during the War

of the Roses. These women's powerful presence may have had an influence on Malory's

unconventional and controversial portrayal of women in "Le Morte Darthur." Assigning

Arthurian times to the 5th century, in his book Malory drew illicit parallels with his own

time, the 15th century. Malory's words "I wolde lever than have haffe of France" alludes

to the crucial argument of the War of the Roses Margaret's of Anjou marriage to King

Henry VI on the condition that several provinces will be restored to France (Seward,









1996). In the 15th century this event was often referred to as the loss of the half of France

(Hall, 1548, Holinshed, 1577).

Malory might have developed solidarity with Joan if only because of the role the

Duke of Buckingham played in her and his own trials. By one source, the Duke was

enraged at Joan's interrogation and was about to strike her while she was in chains

(Hicks, 1928). This same person (i.e. Buckingham) accused Malory of making an attempt

on his life and presided over the jury at the hearing of his case, thus impeding an

objective judgment. Malory could have seen the Lancastrian Queen Margaret when he

was a member of Parliament for Warwickshire. Some biographers (Griffith, 1974) argue

that Malory might have been a Yorkist rather than a Lancastrian, which would place him

on the opposing side of Margaret in the War of Roses. However, Malory's name

appeared next to Queen Margaret's on the list of persons excluded from pardon by the

Yorkist King Edward IV (see the list in Field, 1993). Like Margaret, Malory's Queen

Guinevere was eventually deprived of her royal status.

Powerful and Powerless Speech

Within the Theme of 'Damsel in Distress'

As mentioned in the previous Chapter, one of the favorite medieval topics was

damsel in distress saved by a chivalric knight. Armstong (2003) argues that Malory's

women are always in need of succor. Edwards (1996) also insists that damsels of"Le

Morte Darthur" are constantly in distress, "associating with delusion, lostness,

enchantment." They dwell in forests, those regions "structurally equated of with disguise

and disappearance and peopled by hermits and women (Ibid.). Certainly, the forest is one

of the most powerful symbols of the Middle Ages. In the opening lines of the "Divina

Commedia," Dante confesses that in the middle of life he found himself in a thick forest,









the silva oscura that made him tremble for he lost his way. Three of Malory's knights felt

much the same when they wandered through the wilderness of Cornwall, until they met

three damsels with whose sure hands they (or at least two of them, because one damsel

was disappointed in her knight) were led to great worship. In this episode, the source of

which is unknown, the knights, rather than ladies, are in need of succor.

In Malory's version of the "The Knight of the Cart" episode, Queen Guinevere

finds herself in a powerless position, but manages to gain control over the situation,

whereas, in Malory's source of this episode (on sources see Sommer, 1891), the French

prose "Lancelot," Guinevere plays the conventional role of 'damsel in distress'. This

episode deserves a close attention as it exemplifies the empowered role of Guinevere in

Le Morte Darthur.

In the French prose (translation by Paton, 1929), Prince Meleagant of Gorre comes

to Arthur's court and challenges the King with the following proposition, "If ye dare give

the quene to one of these knights [Arthur's knights] to lead into the forest, I will do battle

with him [for the queen]. If I win the queen, I will lead her away to my country" (255).

Sir Kay urges Arthur to accept the dare and volunteers to take Guinevere to the forest to

meet the Prince's challenge. The Queen has no say in this matter, though she "grieved

beyond measure that she had been given to Kay the seneschal" (258). She "swoons" out

of distress. Guinevere's role in this scene is decidedly powerless. She becomes a trophy

in a doubtful contest that must be conducted in the forest.

In Malory, the situation is quite different. Meleagant's arrival at Arthur's court is

omitted, but in the scene unparalleled in the French source, Guinevere and her unarmed

knights are "Mayinge" in the woods, when they are attacked by Meleagant and his army.









The Queen instantly confronts Meleagant battering him with accusations and strong

words of condemnation (see also Chapter 3 on Guinevere's confrontation style):

"Traytoure knight," seyd Gwenyver, "what caste thou to do? Wolt thou shame
thyselff?... Thou shamyst all knighthood and thyselffe and me. And I lat the wyte [I
let you know] thou shalt never shame me, for I had levir kut myne owne throte in
twayne [rather cut my own throat] rather than thou sholde dishonoure me!" (651).

Meleagant retorts "I have loved you many a yere, and never as now cowde [could] I
gete you at such avayle [get you at such disadvantage]. And therefore I woll take
you as I fynde you" [I will take you as I find you] and proceeds with the attack.
The Queen decides to negotiate,

"Sir Mellyagaunt, sle nat [slay not] my noble knights and I woll go with thee upon
thys covenaunce [this condition] that thou save them and suffir hem no more to be
hurte, wyth this that they be lad [they be led] with me wheresomever thou ledyst
[wherever you lead] me..." (651).

Guinevere makes it clear that she negotiates not because of weakness, but in order

to save her knights from being killed. She becomes the one who dictates the conditions,

which Meleagant accepts. Thus, from the very beginning the Queen acts very unlike the

damsel in distress by taking the situation into her own hands. In the events following

Meleagant's first appearance, the Queen's role is once again much more powerful in Le

Morte Darthur than in the French prose.

In the French "Lancelot," Lancelot ambushes Sir Kay, who has the Queen with him

in the forest, questions him, "Sir knight, who is this lady that ye lead here?" and attempts

to stop him, "Ye will lead her no farther" (260). But when Sir Kay explains the rules of

Meleagant's challenge, Lancelot decides to participate in the contest, "And he thought

within him that he would watch how Kay sped. For the honour would be greater if he

[Lancelot] won her from the knight that had won her from Kay" (260).

Hence, Lancelot too sees Guinevere as a trophy that can be won in a joust. The

French prose makes no mention of Guinevere's reaction to Lancelot's move. She remains









entirely passive as she is led away by Kay, and subsequently, led away by Meleagant,

who wins her from Kay.

In Malory, the Queen's negotiations with Meleagant allow her enough time to send

for Lancelot. However, when Lancelot comes to Meleagant's castle to fight for

Guinevere, she once again refuses to play the part of damsel in distress. In a scene, which

can only be found in Malory (but in none of the sources), the Queen greets Lancelot with

a question, "Sir Launcelot, why be ye so movedd" Guinevere's question implies that she

is in no distress, but Lancelot is in distress. Lancelot is bewildered. He answers her

question with a question, "A! madame, why ask ye me that question?" Guinevere makes

it clear that she has the situation under control, "all thynge ys [is] put in myne honde [in

my hands]" (655). What Lancelot does not know is that just as he entered the castle,

Meleagant panicked and surrendered to Guinevere ("holy I put me in your grace"),

begging her to "rule" Lancelot. Thus, Guinevere is now in a complete charge of the

situation, having power to rule both her enemy and her defender. She never admits to

Lancelot that his arrival had any effect on the events because that would shift the power

from her to Lancelot. When Lancelot tells her that his horse was killed by Meleagant's

archers, Guinevere softens her manner and thanks him heartily, "Truly, seyde the quene,

"ye say throuthe, but heartely I thanke you." As for the enemy, Guinevere uses her power

to the uttermost. In the subsequent scene she urges Lancelot to fight Meleagant to the

death. Notably, Queen Margaret too was merciless to her enemies in the War of the

Roses. She had the rebellious Duke of York beheaded and his severed head brought to

her on a lance (Seward, 1996).









In the French "Lancelot," when Lancelot arrives at Meleagant's castle, he mostly

converses with King Baudemagus, Meleagant's father, who also plays the role of the

negotiator between his son and Lancelot. Malory omits Baudemagus entirely; Guinevere

herself does all the talking (above), in sharp contrast to Guinevere of the French romance,

who plays no part in her own rescue.

The kidnapping and rescue of Queen Guinevere is an essential part of the Arthurian

Romances: in a slightly different form this episode appears in both Vulgate "Lancelot"

and in Chretien de Troyes. Malory's endeavor was to preserve the Arthurian legends,

however he changed the episode considerably by assigning a powerful role to Guinevere

through her use of powerful discourse. In the French "Lancelot" and in Chretien, it is

King Bademagus who prevents his son from raping Guinevere, and then talks Lancelot

into sparing Meleagant. In Malory, Guinevere herself suppresses Meleagant's advances,

and she is also the one who submits Lancelot into acting according to her own plan.

In Chretien's version of the story, Guinevere is extremely demanding of her lover

Lancelot, and her ambiguous verbal behavior sends him away in despair. Yet the Queen's

role in the resolving of the conflict with Meleagant is utterly passive. It just was not in

the tradition of amour courtois for a romantic heroine to orchestrate her own rescue

mission.

Thus, Guinevere's powerful role in Le Morte Darthur makes her more similar to

Queen Margaret of Malory's time than to Queen Guinevere of the earlier Romances.

Powerful and Powerless Speech Within the Theme of

Healing and Seduction

Knepper (2001: 9) ascribes to Malory's women a fiendish power of intrigue and

seduction they are the "bad girls" who "will love you to death." It is true that in Malory









and his sources, a number of heroines are endowed with the gift of healing wounds, while

some of them are also seducers. The coincidence is not accidental, because both healing

and seduction are related to sorcery. As Cook (1995) notes, magical forces are most

frequently called for in matters of healing and love, the areas in which power over

physical and psychological circumstances is most desperately needed.

The most famous of the enchantresses, Morgan Le Fey, first appeared in Geoffrey

Monmouth's Vita Merlini (ed. 1929) as one of nine sisters living in Happy Island, the

Celtic Otherworld. She is named as a healer of King Arthur's wounds in the Isle of

Apples (Avalon). In Layamon's Brut she is Agrante (an anagram of Moregante) of whom

King Arthur says: "And I will fare to Avalun, to the fairest of all maidens, to Agrante the

queen, an elf most fair, and she shall make my wounds all sound, make me all whole with

healing draughts" (Paton, 1903). Chretien de Troyes made her Arthur's sister in "Erec."

She then appears in the French prose Merlin as Viviane, who deceived Merlin and shut

him forever in a cave. It is perhaps worth mentioning that Morgan has been once

identified with Morrigan, Irish battle-goddess (Benson, 1976). In Malory, Morgan Le

Fey, King Arthur's sister, at one point seizes Lancelot and offers herself to him as his

"peramour" [paramour]. In the corresponding scene of the French prose Lancelot,

Morgan Le Fee and her ladies encounter sleeping Lancelot and, even though they do not

recognize him, they are so struck by his beauty that they decide to enchant him and carry

him off to Morgan's castle. Only later they learn that their prisoner is Lancelot, which

makes them alter their plans for him, as they add Guinevere to the targets of their evil

plot. In Malory, Morgan and her companions, who are also queens-enchantresses, express









no admiration for Lancelot's beauty but recognize him immediately and make their

intentions very clear to him from the start.

"Sir knyght, the four quenys seyde, 'thou muste undirtsonde thou art oure
presonere, and we know the well that thou art sir Lancelot du Lake, kynge Banis
sonne. And because that we undirstonde you're worthynesse, that thou art the
noblest knyght lyvyng, and also we know well there can no lady have thy love but
one, and that is quene Gwenyvere, and now thou shalt hir love lose for ever, and
she thyne. For it behovyth the now to chose one of us four, for I am quene Morgan
le Fay, quene of the londe of Gore, and here is the quene of North Galys, and the
quene of Estlonde, and the quene of Oute Iles. Now chose one of us, whyche that
thou wolte have to thy peramour, other ellys [or else] to dye in this prison. (152).

Initially, the author introduces the four queens as the speakers (i.e. "the four

quenys seyde"), but the later part, "for I am quene Morgan le Fay," makes it obvious that

Morgan is the main carrier of the message. It is in vain to search for magical incantations

or chants in Morgan's speech; nevertheless, in its form Morgan's language does

resemble a charm. It seems that with her words "and now thou shalt hir love lose for ever,

and she thyne" [and now you shall her love lose forever and she yours], Morgan is

attempting to cast a spell on Lancelot. The charms or spells are defined as "very practical

formulae designed to produce definite results" (Cavendish, 1977: 62). Cook (1995) also

notes that many charms contain clear and explicit language, and their intent is frequently

to either banish or bind. Perhaps Morgan's words intend to bring a result of banishing

Lancelot's love for Guinevere and binding his affections to one of the four queens. Yet

the Sorceress does not fully rely on the power of her magic spell, or there would be no

need to threaten Lancelot with long-term imprisonment: a non-magical attempt to

overpower him.

As mentioned before, Morgan's message is clear and explicit; moreover, her speech

is powerful and assertive, as it is loaded with threats, directives, and ultimatums. Morgan

gives Lancelot an ultimatum to either accept her or one of her female companions as his









"peramour" [paramour], or else to die in prison ("other ellys to dye in this preson"). The

other ultimatum is to forsake his love for Guinevere and, once again, to bestow his love

on one of Morgan's party ("and now thou shalt hir love lose for ever, and she thyne. For

it behovyth the now to chose one of us four").

Fries (1994) suggests that the counter-heroines, such as Morgan le Fey, pervasively

assume male roles in Le Morte Darthur. Yet, Morgan's actions are very similar in Le

Morte Darthur and the French source; the difference lies mostly in her verbal behavior,

which is more forceful in Malory. Thus, it must be due to the powerful nature of

Morgan's language that her role is perceived by Fries, and some other literary analysts, as

that of a male character. However, I argue that directness and assertiveness of speech do

not necessarily constitute the attributes of male verbal behavior. It is likely that Morgan

of the French prose, who declares her admiration for Lancelot's beauty (even compares

him to an unearthly being) and whose actions are initially driven only by her desire for

him, seems more feminine in comparison to Malory's Morgan, who instantly defines her

plan of actions while making no notice of Lancelot's beauty.

Thus, Morgan's speech is considerably altered and made more forceful and

decisive in Malory, though her evil role in this episode is similar to that of the prose.

Nevertheless, in the final scenes of Le Morte Darthur, Morgan Le Fey is one of the four

queens who accompanied Arthur on his last journey to Avalon. Malory alters Morgan's

evil role by merging her at the end with the fair Agrante of Avalon, or the healer of

Arthur's wounds in Monmouth, thus making Morgan's role more complex in its duality.

The mighty knights are defenseless against the warlike enchantresses, another one

of which is Lady Huntress that shot "slepynge and slumberynge"[sleeping and









slumbering] Lancelot "in the thyke of the buttock" with her arrow. Notably, in the

Vulgate cycle it is a male hunter that wounded Lancelot. A short scene describing the

unfortunate meeting of Lancelot and the Lady-Huntress, with a conversation between

them created solely by Malory, has lately attracted a good deal of attention from literary

critics. Maud McInerney (2000: 91) considers the episode central to the whole story,

signifying a gruesome view of a woman as "the greatest threat to chivalry," which she

ascribes to Malory.

But let us examine the verbal exchange that takes place between Lancelot and the

Huntress. When sir Lancelot sees the woman that wounded him, he says:

"Lady, or damesell, whatsoever ye be, in an evyll tyme bare ye thys bowe. The
devyll made you a shoter!

[Lady, or damsel, whoever you may be, in evil time bare you this bow. The devil
made you a shooter].

"Now Mercy, fayre sir!' seyde the lady. I am ajantillwoman that usyth here in thys
foreyste huntynge," she explains to Lancelot, "and God knowyth I saw you nat."

["Forgive me, fair sir', said the lady. I am a gentelwoman that hunts here in the
forest and God knows I did not see you] (643).

In this incident Lancelot is so angry and frustrated that he has trouble using a polite

form of address for the Huntress. Hence, he is addressing her as "Lady, or damesell,

whatsoever ye be."

Next, the Huntress offers Lancelot an apology ("Now Mercy, fayre sir!' seyde the

lady") and also an explanation for what has happened:

"I am ajantillwoman that usyth here in thys foreyste huntynge," she explains to
Lancelot, "and God knowyth I saw you nat but as here was a barayne hynde at the
soyle in this well. And I wente I had done well, but my hande swarved" (643).

[I am a gentlewoman that hunts here in the forest and God knows I did not see you,
but here was a deer at the well and I went for it. And I would have done well, but
my hand swerved].









Although, the Huntress produces an apology and explains that she was aiming at

the deer and not at Lancelot, she seems to be somewhat more interested in defending her

shooting than she is in her victim's condition. Her words (I would have done well, if it

were not for my hand swerving) aim to negate Lancelot's assertion, "Devil made you a

shooter." But perhaps the lady's verbal behavior, betraying little compassion for her

victim, is in accordance with her personality of a huntress. Her speech reveals no fear,

little emotion, and she explains herself with great confidence. Her apology1, followed by

her well-composed explanation, convinces Lancelot that the shooting was accidental,

which eliminates any animosity between the Huntress and Lancelot.

Yet what follows next are Lancelot's lamentations for which Malory finds language

that is strikingly powerless. In this situation, Lancelot's powerless language possibly

reflects the powerless nature of the situation in which he finds himself:

"A, mercy Jesu' seyde sir Lancelot, "I may calle myself the most unhappy man
that lyvyth, for ever whan I wolde have faynyst worshyp there befallyth me ever
som unhappy thynge" (644).

[I may call myself the most unhappy man that lives, because ever when I would
have had worship (i. e. honor, recognition, glory) there befalls some unhappy
thing].

Lancelot's speech is uncommonly powerless, as he is complaining and, moreover,

exaggerating the gravity of his situation. His utterance "for ever whan I wolde have

faynyst worshyp there befallyth me ever som unhappy thynge," is a considerable

exaggeration because there have been many occasions in which Lancelot gained the

desired "worship," even more so as he is called the world's best knight.

Sir Lancelot is not addressing his complaints to the Huntress: he begins his

complaining after the lady has already departed, as the author informs us. Thus, Lancelot

is complaining to himself, or rather he is addressing his complaints to God, ("A, mercy









Jesu"). Lancelot's speech may be considered an indirect complaint, where adressee is not

held responsible for a percieved offense. This type of complaining is also referred to as

"griping" or "troubles-telling" (Katriel, 1985; Jefferson and Lee, 1981; Tannen, 1990;

Boxer, 1993). As there is no expectation of receiving a response, Lancelot's complaint

may also be classified as rhetorical indirect complaint, a way of 'letting off steam'

(Boxer, 1993) or in Goffman's terms, an elaborated 'response cry' (Goffman, 1978, in

Boxer, 1993). A 'response cry' can simply be a cry in direct response to pain, and in this

case Lancelot is in a considerable physical pain, though it is not the physical pain that

upsets him, but the fact that the injury may hinder his success at the future tournament.

Therefore, he produces a rhetorical indirect complaint or an elaborated response cry that

goes beyond a pain cry.

More indirect complaints are exchanged among women than among men, possibly

because men are reluctant to display vulnerability or weakness often inherent in the

telling of troubles (Boxer, 1993: 392). Interestingly, Lancelot allows no mortal

communicator to witness his griping, nor is he looking for commiseration in his moment

of weakness. Yet the author lets the audience in on the vulnerability display of his

principal male character, possibly eliciting the audience's commiseration for the latter.

Catherine LaFarge (1992) attempted a Freudian interpretation of this episode as a

reversal of sex roles revealing Lancelot's (and Malory's) repressed femininity. The

unusually powerless verbal behavoir and powerless role of Lancelot in this episode

appears to be in contrast with the powerful role of the Huntress who speaks and acts with

self-confidence and determination. LaFarge (1992) speaks of the reversal of sex roles

(meaning that the Huntress assumes a male role, while Lancelot takes a female role in









this scene) undoubtedly due to such unlikely distribution of power. However, LaFarge's

theory would only work if powerful verbal behaivor were indeed an exclusive

characteristic of male speech, and powerless behaivor were reserved for female

characters. Of course, in this work I have been continuously building an argument against

this assumption. Lancelot's griping and complaining, however excessive, does not

transform him into a female, nor does the Huntresses' power and communicative

confidence turn her into a male because both female and male characters exhibit

occurrences of powerful and powerless verbal behavior in Le Morte Darthur.

Ultimately, the role of the Huntress in Le Morte Darthur could only be fully

understood in conjunction with other episodes of the kind. Such episodes are insertions

from the literature of much earlier periods of time. Like the fiery damsels who in the

scene with Marhaus "spette uppon" [spat on] the knight's shield and threee myre"

[threw mare] upon it, then "fledde [fled] as they were wylde that som of them felle by the

way," these wild 'women of the woods' bring with them the chaos and raw passions of

the Dark Ages.

Of course, the Lady Huntress originates from ancient mythology, but she also has

something in common with the fiendish wood fairies of Celtic folklore (she came as if

out of the woodwork the sounds of the hunt and the barking of the dogs did not wake

Lancelot). Whether inspired by the ancient legends or the historic heroines of Malory's

time, the Lady Huntress is partially transformed by Malory from a hunting deity into a

not so unearthly woman, who is simply capable of taking care of herself.

La Belle Isode ofLe Morte Darthur also still bears a slight resemblance to her

prototype of a warlike enchantress of the ancient Celtic legends: she is skillful at healing,









and she at one point volunteers to "purvey horse and armoure" for Trystram's battle with

Palomydes. Yet in French romances Isode's role is decidedly powerless. Even her love

for Trystram is not her own choice but the result of a magic spell2. In contrast, Isode of

Le Morte Darthur is a woman of wisdom who makes her own choices in life. Although

Malory preserves the theme of the magic love drynke [drink], which is present in all of

the older versions of the Trystram and Isode legend, the author of Le Morte Darthur

makes it very clear that Isode and Trystram fell in love long before the magic drink was

ever made. Moreover, Malory portrays the love story of Isode and Trystram in its

progression, beginning from their first meeting, when Trystram taught Isode to play the

harp and "she began to have a grete [great] fantasy unto hym" (239). Immediately after

this sentence, in which the word began signals the beginning of the relationship, we learn

how Isode tells Trystram that another knight (Palomydes) has done a great deal for her

sake, thereby making Trystram jealous of his competitor ("Thus was there grete envy

between Tramstryste [Trystram] andPalomydes"). Next, Isode encourages Trystram to

enter a tournament as her knight and supplies him with horse and armor. Thus, in Malory

the magic drink plays little role, while Isode's relationship with Trystram is neither the

result of enchantment, nor is it a matter of chance. In fact, the development of this

relationship is strongly facilitated by Isode herself (this was before she married King

Mark).

Malory empowers Isode by disassociating his heroine's wisdom from sorcery, as

well as by emphasizing Isode's sensibility and making her an excellent judge of

character. She knows she can trust Dame Brangwayne, who is always loyal to both

Trystram and Isode in Le Morte Darthur, whereas in the French Tristram, as Helen









Cooper (1996) notes, Brangwayne tries to kill Isode. Moreover, Isode is the one who

uncovers an intricate plot to destroy Trystram, concocted by Palomydes (who at that time

pretends to be Trystram's friend):

"I sawe thys day how ye were betrayed and nyghe brought unto you're dethe... And
therefore, sir, how sholde I suffir in you're presence such a felonne and traytoure as
ys sir Palomydes?" (460). [I saw this day how you were betrayed and nearly
brought to your death... And therefore, sir, how should I tolerate in your presence
such a felon and traitor as sir Palomydes?].

Isode's intellectual superiority is not always accepted by the male characters of Le

Morte Darthur. Palomydes disregards Isode's comment entirely, while Trystram pays

little attention to her revelations. The latter quickly accepts Palomydes' apology and says,

"No forse! All ys pardonned as on my party." It is evident from the author's comment,

"Then La Beall Isode hylde down her hede and seyde no more at that tyme," that Isode

(and the author) is not satisfied with the outcome of the exchange.

The Celtic Isode could have had the same prototype as her contemporary and

compatriot Grainne from the "The Reproach of Diarmaid," an Irish saga telling a similar

story of a queen that ran to the forest with a nephew of her husband, the king

(Schoepperle, 1913). After making Diarmaid her lover, Grainne by no means felt obliged

to be faithful to him and, while in the forest, had affairs with passing knights.

Such women made medieval historians and some Arthurian scholars equally

indignant. Sexual behavior of the Celtic heroines was described as "gemein," shameless,

vulgar, abandon (Zimmer, 1911: 167). With general prejudice against women being so

strong, it is remarkable that Malory was enforcing such a display of power and

determination in women. In spite of the common practice of his time and perhaps

remembering that both Joan of Arc and Queen Margaret were accused of witchcraft,

Malory greatly reduced the theme of enchantment by women.









In Le Morte Darthur the intelligence of the heroines of Arthurian legends, and their

struggle to gain and maintain power (as seen through their language), are no longer seen

as the unnatural phenomena to which the works of magic and sorcery are the only

explanation.

Powerful and Powerless Speech

Within the Theme of Adultery

Medieval literature leaves one with an impression that adultery was fairly common.

In addition to the adultery of Guinevere and Isode in Malory, and Guinevere's affair with

Mordred in Monmouth, there was the unfaithful Scotch queen Ysaune from the "Livre de

Caradoc," Fenis from Chretien's "Clidge," who feigned death in order to deceive her

husband Alis for the sake of Clidge, and many others.

Malory applies no moralism to his adulterous queens, calling Guinevere a 'trew

lover', and La Beale Isode, 'the fayrest' and 'pyerles of all ladyes'. Their adultery is often

the result of the sexual misbehavior of the male characters. Uther Pendragon kills

Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall and, disguised as the latter, seduces his wife Igreyne, of

which liaison King Arthur is born. The hero of Chretien's "Yvain" marries the widow of

a knight he has slain and becomes the lord of her castle. Meleagant nearly rapes

Guinevere, but is stopped by king Baudemagus, in the Vulgate Cycle. In Malory, the

villainous Meleagant has similar intentions. Another one of Malory's villains, King Mark

of Cornwall, gives Segwarydes' wife, the fairest lady of his court (this was before Mark

married Isode) to Bleoberys de Ganys, the knight of the Round Table, who demanded

from him "what giffte I woll aske in this country" (246) [what gift I will ask in this

country]. It seemed to have been a common custom of the time for a king to promise

particularly honored guests of the court any wish or any gift that they may ask for. In this









case, the wife of one of the King Mark's subjects, Sir Segwarydes, becomes the "gift"

that is requested by Sir Bleoberys and granted by Mark. However, in Malory, King

Mark's behavior is depicted in the most negative light. Even though the King's decision

is accepted by Sir Segwarydes and other knights, an unnamed lady of the court speaks out

and demands of Trystram, who is the court's best knight and King Mark's nephew, to

remedy the situation:

"Than there was one lady that rebuked sir Trystrames in the horrybelyst wyse, and
called hym cowarde knyght, that he wolde for shame of hys knyghthode to se a
lady so shamefully takyn away fro hys uncklys courte..."(247).

[There was one lady that reproached/shamed sir Trystram in the most horrible way
and called him coward knight, that he would, for shame of his knighthood, see a
lady so shamefully taken away from his uncle's court (King Mark is Trystram's
uncle)].

Malory retells the lady's speech in an indirect quote, but the emphatic expressions

the author uses, "rebuked in the horrybelyst wyse [shamed in the most horrible way]," as

well as "called hym cowarde knyght [called him coward knight]" give us an idea that the

lady used very strong language to persuade Trystram to take action.

Thus, when a knight's wife is given away as a gift to a stranger, the men remain

silent, but another lady protests in the strongest manner and seeks out a remedy for the

situation. This episode is yet another example of the striking contrast that exists in Le

Morte Darthur between the powerless position that the society assigns to women and the

powerful roles those women struggle to undertake, as evident from their verbal behavior.

Furthermore, in Malory's "Trystram," King Mark receives as a gift a magic horn

"that had such a virtue that there myght no lady nothir j antyllwoman drynke of but if she

were trew to her husband; and if she were false she sholde spylle all the drynke" (326).









[that had such a vertue that there might no lady drink from it but if she were true to

her husband; and is she were false she would spill all the drink]. King Mark tested his

wife, La Belle Isode, and a hundred ladies with her, and only four of the latter could

"drenke clene" [drink clean, i.e. without spilling]. The indignant king ruled all the

adulteresses to be burned, but his subjects

"seyde playnly they wolde not have the ladies brente" (326)

[said plainly that they would not have the ladies burnt].

The author does not elaborate on whether the men of the court doubted the fairness

of the test, or whether they found a different way of dealing with their wives' adultery,

other than burning the ladies. The only thing that the author finds worth mentioning in

this case is that the men plainly refused to burn their wives. The word plainly here draws

emphasis to the firmness and finality of their decision. Nonetheless, the wives

themselves have no say in this matter.

There are however, episodes in the "Trystram" chapter ofLe Morte Darthur, where

Malory follows the source material with little alteration. The altered pieces (or the ones

written solely by Malory) and the unchanged scenes often appear to be ages apart,

especially, as far as the women's roles are concerned. This is also the case in the

following episode, where Sir Brewnor sets up a beauty contest between his wife and La

Belle Isode on the condition that the loser would be beheaded. Since it has been

unanimously admitted that Isode was the "fayrer lady and the better made" of the two,

"sir Tristram strode onto hym (Brewnor) and toke his lady from hym [took his lady from

him], and with an awke stroke he smote of hir hede clene [and with one stroke cut off her

head]" (259).









The last scene is particularly striking because Malory usually changes such

blunders of his favorite knights. Eerie and savage, the beheading contest echoes the

unbound repression of women in the Dark Ages; like a bad dream it can not be altered.

Yet one can not help wonder at the real-life prototypes of those creatures who meekly

married the killers of their husbands, who were taken by force as trophies, raped, given as

gifts to strangers or fell victims to beheading games.

Powerful and Powerless Speech within the Themes of
Amour Courtois and Earthly Love

Malory's true knights are the ones who fight for "ladyes ryght" (238). But it was

long debated whether the chivalric service to ladies existed in real life or it was merely an

invention of minstrels (Benson, 1976). On historical evidence, in the 12th century when

the chivalric love flourished in literature, jousting was essentially a commercial

undertaking in which a landless knight could make a fortune (Ibid.). The chivalric ideal

gradually penetrated from romance to reality, and in 14th 15th centuries it became the

foundation of the moral code. The newly found orders of knighthood took an oath to

sustain widows in their right and maidens in their virginity, and help them and succor

them. The oath impelled the knights not to take or touch any lady or damsel unless she

consented to it. Moral writers endeavored to give such rules a historical validity by

extending them back to the Arthurian time.

Minstrels were economically dependent on ladies for whom they wrote, which gave

a reason to excessive flattery and declarations of ideal love. At the same time, their social

status prevented anything but sexless relationship with those ladies.

A more fundamental reason for denouncing sexual love was religious: the earthly

love was admissible as a parabola of the heavenly one. The code of chivalric love, the









"amour courtois," was elaborated by Chretien de Troyes, as well as Andreas Capellanus3,

under the influence of their patroness Marie of Champagne who brought the concept

from her native Provence. A chivalric lover avoids any direct contact with his lady, but

he is infatuated with any object related to her. Thus in the French Prose, Lancelot swoons

at the sight of Guinevere's hair on a comb. Also in the prose "Lancelot," the hero

conceals his feeling until his friend Galehot arranges a rendezvous and Guinevere kisses

him. Consummation of their love, taking place while Camille enchants King Arthur, is

mediated by the Lady of the Lake by means of a magic shield.

Malory omitted most of this. His Guinevere is a proud woman of considerable

wisdom, who would not swoon even at the sight of a knight carrying the severed head of

his wife (Malory might have known how Queen Margaret handled the head of the Duke

of York). Malory ignored the grandiloquent declarations of love and the first kissing of

Lancelot by Guinevere, a key scene in the prose Lancelot. In the French prose, Guinevere

debates whether she should kiss Lancelot, though not with Lancelot but with his friend

Galahot. At first she is against the idea, "As for kissing, I see not that this is either time or

place" (Paton 1903), but later on allows herself to be persuaded.

This easily manipulated Guinevere of the French Romance is very different from

Malory's Guinevere, who does not allow herself to be persuaded by others. Malory

considerably reworked the story of Guinevere's kidnapping by Meleagant (as previously

discussed). In the Vulgate Lancelot, Guinevere is a victim in a deal between King Arthur

and Meleagant. In Troyes, as the tradition of amour courtois requires, the Queen is

helpless in the hands of men and for her escape is entirely obliged to Lancelot, with

whom she is nevertheless angry for his trifle deviation from the rules of chivalry. In









Malory, at Guinevere and Lancelot's meeting at the window, Lancelot "wysshed that he

myght have comyn in to her." And her response was, "I wolde as fayne as ye that ye

myght come in to me." The directness and sincerity of their talk stands in sharp contrast

to the artful intricacies of courtly love. In Malory love is as "earthly" as nature itself;

"For, lyke as trees and erbys burgenyth and florysshyth in May [like trees
flourish], in lyke wyse every last harte that ys ony maner of lover spryngith,
burgenyth, buddyth, and florysshyth in lusty dedis [likewise every lover's heart
flourishes] ... And therefore all ye that be lovers, calle unto you're remembrance the
monethe of May, lyke as ded quene Gwenyver, for whom I make here a lyttyll
mencion, that whyle she lyved she was a trew lover [while she lived she was a true
lover], and therefore she had a good ende."

This "lyttyll mencion" [little mention] in which Malory calls Guinevere a true lover

is very different from what was said of this queen before Le Morte Darthur.

Disloyalty is the essence of Guanhamara (Guinevere) in Geoffrey Monmouth's

Historia. There she is a typical medieval adulterous quene supporting Mordred, a nephew

of her husband, in his attempt to size power over the Arthur's empire. She is primarily

responsible for the eventual collapse of the Round Table. Legends say of her that she

was bad when she was small but even worse when she grew up, and she met her end tied

to wild horses and torn to pieces (Bruce, 1958). The 12th century sources tell of her

capturing by king Melwas (Vita Gildas) or Meleagant (in Chretien's Lancelot) whose

kingdoms are described as places of no return, the Otherworld. She is rescued by either

Arthur or, in the chivalric tradition, by her knight, initially, sir Kay who was then

substituted, supposedly on advice of Marie de Champagne, (Kennedy, 2001) by a more

chivalrous Lancelot. Under the pen of Chretien de Troyes and his followers (the prose

Lancelot) she became an ideal subject of chivalric love. Yet for Chretien and the author

of the prose Lancelot she had to be blamed for Lancelot's failure in the quest of Holy









Grail. Eventually, earthly love, even the chivalric one, was a sad impediment on the way

to eternal heavenly love.

Malory admits that Lancelot was not the best in the Grail Quest, but Malory's

conclusion is very different from that of his predecessors. Lancelot failed in the Grail

Quest but he never failed in his love for Guinevere. When Guinevere was captured in the

castle of Meleagant, Lancelot did not hesitate for a moment (compared to prose Lancelot,

where he hesitated for a moment) to ride in a cart, as was the custom for those sentenced

to gallows, to rescue his lady. Lancelot's love for Guinevere allows him to prove himself

worthy of his status of the most noble knight, despite of his failure in the Grail Quest. In

the episode succeeding the "Knight of the Cart," Lancelot cures sir Urry the spiritual

task that only "the most nobelyste knight" could perform.

In the "Fair Maid of Astolat" episode, Malory once again departs from his sources

to emphasize his own conception of love and morality. Elayne, the Fair Maid of Astolat,

is one of the most modest and innocent of Malory's heroines. Yet she is the one to throw

a serious challenge to the deeply rooted gender-based stereotypes. She falls desperately in

love with Launcelot and asks him to be her husband. "Sir, I wolde have you to my

husbande" seyde Elayne" (638). But Launcelot can neither accept her proposal, nor

admit to her that he loves Guinevere (because such confessions would compromise

Guinevere, King Arthur's wife), so he politely refuses. "Fayre Damesell, I thanke you

hartely," seyde sir Launcelot, but truly," seyde he, "I caste me never to be wedded man."

Elayne's next request is even more unconventional, "Than, fayre knight," seyde she,

"woll ye be my paramour?"









It is obvious from Launcelot's emphatic reply, "Jesu deffende me!" [Jesus defend

me!] seyde sir Launcelot. "For than I rewarded you're fadir and you're brother full evyll for

their grete goodnesse" [for then I rewarded your father and your brother ill for their great

good ness] that he is shocked by her direct and strait-forward proposition.

Elayne does not possess the powerful status of Guinevere or Isode; she is a simple

woman, not a queen. Her words are plain and simple, "Sir, I wolde have you to my

husbande; there are no elevated forms of address or elaborate expessions in her speech.

Her language is simple but it is, nonetheless, powerful in its directness and clarity. Only

in her last utterance does Elayne admit weakness; "I had no myghte to withstonde the

fervent love, wherefore I have my deth [I have no might to withstand the fervent love,

therefore I have my death]."

The author's sympathy is with Elayne, who has "no myghte to withstonde" the

sorrow of unrequited love. In the Prose Launcelot Elayne makes bitter speeches after

Launcelot's rejection, accusing him unjustly of her destruction. She begins to resemble

other, not so virtuous, females (such as Morgan Le Fey) who try to trap Launcelot and

fail. Once her character is undermined, so is the impact of her challenge of the

assumption that a woman can not express her desire for a man and still maintain her good

reputation. Again Sir Thomas Malory alters his sources to prevent the derogation of

Elayne. In Le Morte Darthur, Elayne says, "Am I nat an earthly woman?" and then with

crystal clarity she states, "my belyve ys [my believe is] that I do no offense, though I love

an earthly man..." (639). Elayne's statement is powerful and meaningful. She commits

"no offense by offering her love to Launcelot; and her reputation is blameless.









Conclusion

Much like historical heroines of Malory's time, Joan of Arc and Queen Margaret of

Anjou, the women of Le Morte Darthur struggle against the age-old stereotypes and the

social constraints of their gender. These "earthly" women believe in the value of earthly

life that includes the lusty month of May, the nakedness of Trystram in bed with Isode

the Fair, the girlish pleasure of Isode the White Hands in "kyssynge and clyppynge," the

innocent "love lettirs" written by young Keyhydyns to Isode and by her to him, and the

last order of Guinevere on her deathbed to her knight, sir Lancelot, bidding him "to

fetche my corps, and besyde my lord kyng Arthur he shal berye [bury] me." This belief

(in the value of earthly life) raised them far beyond the tenets of medieval moralism.

Thus, in the above analysis I have attempted to trace the origins and examine the

transformations of Malory's female characters for a deeper understanding of their roles

and, consequently, their utterances in Le Morte Darthur.

Notes

1. The word "mercy" in Middle English often served as a way to express an apology.
Thus, in this case, saying "Mercy" does not equal begging for mercy.

2. Malory's intelligent Isode even has something in common with a character of
Russian folklore, beautiful sorceress Vassilisa the Wise, who loves the
simpleminded folk hero Ivan the Fool and guides him through a series of
adventures. At times, Ivan disregards Vassilisa's advice, with dire consequences.

3. Andreas Capellanus was the author of De Amore Libri Tres (1196), in which the
12th century code of chivalric behavior found its most accomplished form.














CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSION

Overview

This dissertation presented a sociolinguistic discourse analysis of power relations in

female speeches of Le Morte Darthur. The present study incorporated various approaches

to discourse analysis and applied them to the analysis of female discourses in Malory's

narrative, thereby contributing to the understanding of meaning in Le Morte Darthur.

In addition, an implication of the present study may be in contributing to a better

understanding of gender differences in discourse and of the role of power in female

interactions through historical perspective.

It has been suggested (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1975) that the methodology of

discourse analysis, in particular, that of Speech Act Theory, is better suited for the

analysis of spontaneous, rather than literary discourses (Chapter 1). Nonetheless, I found

the methodology of Ethnography of Communication, as expounded by Dell Hymes

(1974), to be ideally suited for the present analysis, especially, when applied in

combination with the elements of discourse-historical method of text analysis (Wodak et

al., 1990; Titsher et al., 2000).

For the present analysis it is important to distinguish between the voices (Pavel,

1985) of implicit narrator (the sources), personified narrator (the author), the hearers

(readers/audience), and the participants (personages), as discussed in Chapter 1. In this

case, the discourse participants who are the personages ofLe Morte Darthur are

frequently voicing the author's ideas, while, at the same time, acquiring their own voices.









The women's voices and, consequently, women's roles in Le Morte Darthur are

currently a controversial issue (e.g., Wheeler and Tolhurst, 2001). It may be tempting to

presume that the author's own male style of interaction has affected the language of

Malory's female characters, making their speech more masculine or less feminine. It has

even been suggested (e.g., La Farge, 1992) that it was Malory's intention to reduce or

disregard women's part in the narrative. However, the present analysis has discovered

overwhelming evidence contrary to such assumptions.

The true role of women in Le Morte Darthur could, perhaps, be most expressively

exemplified by the speech of Elayne, the Fair Maid of Astolat (discussed in Earhtly Love

section of Chapter 4). Elayne is a heroine brought up within the canons of the common

medieval model of the silent and obedient woman, as evident from the advice she

receives from her father to bear her grief in silence. Up to this point Elayne has been

adhering to the powerless model of behavior, keeping quiet and frequently swooning, as

it has been expected of a proper maiden. However, in sharp contrast to her traditional

verbal behavior, Elayne rejects her father's advice, as well as the silent model, by

verbalizing her complaints and making powerful statements not only to defend her own

actions, but to speak on behalf of all women.

In fact, contrast is a marked feature in the speech of Malory's female characters,

especially as far as power features in language are concerned. The women ofLe Morte

Darthur vary the way they talk, for strategic or personal reasons, depending on the

situation, context and the discourse participants (as discussed in Chapter 2). The use of

positive politeness strategies and an indirect way of giving advice can be found in the

speech style of Isode. Yet, these face-saving strategies in Queen Isode's speech are









reserved exclusively for the conversations with her lover Trystram, while no hedging is

used in Isode's interactions with the other participants.

Guinevere's dominating, direct and assertive speech in a conflict with Meleagant

stands in sharp contrast to her verbal behavior in an argument with her lover Lancelot.

During the course of the argument, Guinevere wavers from her well-composed powerful

speech behavior, and breaks into tears, while abandoning all concerns for her own face-

needs. In this case, Guinevere's tears can be seen as a contextualization cue, signaling the

beginning of powerless discourse. By the time the argument of Lancelot and Guinevere

occurs, the reader would have become accustomed to the commanding language

frequently used by Guinevere in mixed-gender conversations, which is why a sudden loss

of power in the Queen's speech drastically increases the dramatic effect of the scene.

There is, perhaps, an ever so slight influence of author's own gender on the speech

of his female characters, which may be unavoidable in a case of any author or any literary

text. An example of such influence could be rare use of compliments in the speech of

female characters. In contrast, the females of the French sources of Le Morte Darthur, the

prototypes of Malory's women, give and receive compliments in abundance. Yet the

reduction of compliments could once again be seen as a deliberate technique employed

by the author to emphasize the rare cases in which the compliments are used. Thus,

Isode's compliment to Trystram, at a point of miscommunication in this couple's talk,

brings Trystram to a sudden awareness of Isode's feelings for him, while at the same time

dissipating a potential argument. On the other hand, Guinevere never compliments her

lover Lancelot directly, yet in a conversation with one of her maids she calls him the

moste noble knyght of the world" (612). In this case, Queen Guinevere's indirect









compliment makes the reader aware of the Queen's true feelings for Sir Lancelot, as well

as of her unwillingness to convey those feelings to the addressee.

Thus, the author's influence on his heroines by no means deprives them of

femininity, but rather adds to the depth of these heroines, their intelligence and their

strong, passionate, unyielding personalities that emerge in the course of their discourses.

Malory's narrative style contains few descriptions of his characters; their

personalities unfold through their communications throughout various speech events. The

present analysis examined the selected instances of speech behavior (in which female

personages are involved), such as conflicts, confrontations, apologies, complains and

advice (see Chapter 3).

Power relations, both implicit and explicit, are a driving force in all kinds of verbal

interactions in Le Morte Darthur. Moreover, in mixed-gender interactions power

relations are never absolute, but immensely fluid and flexible. The power display may be

pronounced or subtle, sometimes taking a form of excessive politeness, as in Queen

Isode's forms of address 'My awne [own] lorde' to her knight Trystram. Isode's

conversations with Trystram present a contrast to her communication with the disfavored

knight, Palamydes, in which power relations are conveyed by the adequately powerful

language.

At the same time, powerless style by no means predominates among Malory's

female characters and it is often used for strategic purposes and with an actual intent to

assert power. Thus, when one woman finds herself in a hopelessly powerless

circumstances (i. e. the wife of Segrawides, given as a gift to Sir Bleoberis by King

Mark), another woman vocalizes her complains about the situation to the King's nephew.









A seemingly powerless speech act of indirect complaining turns into a power play, as it

instigates a rescue mission, in spite of the King's orders.

Interestingly, in mixed-gender interactions such as advice, nagging or

confrontation, the patterns of interaction frequently conform to the patterns established

for modern male/female communications by the studies on Gender and Language

(Tannen, 1990; DeCapua and Dunham, 1998; Boxer, 2000; Hamdorf, 2003). This

phenomenon attests to the stability of the patterns through times and cultural variations.

Even different types of conflict managing styles, established by modern analysts (Ting-

Toomey et al., 2001; Hamdorf, 2003), are applicable in correlation with psychological

variables, such as independence vs. interdependence and the notion of face (Goffman,

1967).

My identification of Queen Margaret, as a possible prototype of Malory's Queen

Guinevere is another attempt to explain the strong differences between Malory's heroines

and their prototypes in the sources. In this study, particular attention has been paid to the

marked difference in verbal behavior of Malory's Guinevere and her literary precursor,

Guinevere of Chretien de Troyes (who almost certainly had a very different historical

prototype in the person of Chretien's patroness Queen Marie de Champagne). I have also

suggested that not only Queen Guinevere, but to a certain extent all ofLe Morte

Darthur's heroines envelop the spirit of extraordinary and influential historical heroines

of Malory's time (Chapter 4).

Malory might have the most controversial prototypes for his heroines, but what

makes his female characters so intricate is superposition of different historical levels,

from the remnants of matriarchal habits, through the unbound male dominance in the









Dark Ages, to the Christian doctrine of femininity and masculinity as parts of one

spiritual body, to the chivalric tradition of adoration of woman, and finally, to the

growing role of women in 15th Century political life.

Female personages ofLe Morte Darthur convey these evolutionary sequences in

their verbal behavior. The most archaic level is, perhaps, personified by Isode's mother,

who "gryped that swerde in hir hondefersely [gripped the sword in her hand fiercely]

(238), and without any attempt to explain her actions attacked her daughter's lover

Trystram. The victimized woman of the Dark Ages is Queen Igrayne, with abundance of

powerless features in her communication with men of power. The chivalric idol is

represented by Lyonet, silently waiting to be rescued from the besieged tower by a

worthy knight. Yet Malory's principal heroines, Isode and Guinevere, with intricate

combination of powerful and powerless features in their speech, are the embodiment of

all these historic and cultural levels, from which their complex and versatile personalities

emerge. These women were Malory's challenge to the long-standing tradition, in which

these same literary characters were very differently assessed (as discussed in Chapter 4).

In my opinion, Malory created female characters that, with the exception of perhaps,

Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, have no rivals in either Medieval, or in modern literature.

Limitations of the research

Malory's voluminous Le Morte Darthur possesses a virtually inexhaustible supply

of material for textual discourse analysis. The present study of powerful and powerless

features in female discourses limits the discourses examined to the selected speeches of

the female characters. The purpose of the selection is to present the examples of verbal

behavior, in which the discursive features related to power appear to be most prominent.

However, the delicate interplay of power relations in speech often becomes evident only









in the course of a methodical sociolinguistic discourse analysis. Thus, a detailed analysis

of the entire content of female speeches from Le Morte Darthur might reveal new

nuances of meaning.

Another limitation is perhaps in narrowing down the number of speech events

examined to selected interactions, such as conflicts, advice, compliment and other events.

Yet there appears to be some evidence of another kind of verbal behavior in some female

conversations, and that is teasing, which has not been addressed in this analysis. This

dissertation attempts to demonstrate that the methodology of discourse analysis and

sociolinguistics can be successfully applied to textual analysis. Yet, there are a few

exceptional cases of verbal behavior (e.g. teasing), where the knowledge of

paralinguistic and extralinguistic cues (Boxer, 2002: 81), such as intonation and eye

gaze, imperative for the analysis, is not available in this case.

Directions for Further Research

A promising direction for further research is in the analysis of male discourses of

Le Morte Darthur. In this dissertation the speech of the male characters have only been

examined in relation to that of their female interlocutors, as it has been extremely

significant for the present study to assess the way female discourses are perceived by

male participants of the interactions. However, in the course of the future study it would

be possible to analyze male discourses with the purpose of revealing the patterns of male

interaction in Le Morte Darthur. It would also be significant to compare the speech of

male characters in Malory's work to the discourses of their prototypes in the sources.

It has been mentioned in this research that the women of Arthurian legends

underwent amazing transformations and gained entirely new voices in the process of

becoming the characters of Malory's Le Morte Darthur. A comparison of male speeches









in Le Morte Darthur and the sources is likely to reveal transformations of equal

significance.

Another interesting area for the future research would be a study of couples talk

(Tannen, 1990). The conversations of the couples (e.g. interactions between Guinevere

and Lancelot, as well as between Isode and Trystram) in Le Morte Darthur has received

attention in this work. However, these conversations were analyzed with the focus on

female characters. A shift of focus from female discourses to couples talk would

undoubtedly lead to other interesting findings concerning mixed-gender conversation and

further contribute to the understanding of meaning of Malory's work.

Closing Remarks

In the process of conducting the present study, I came to a full realization of the

significance of sociolinguistic discourse analysis in interpreting literary work. In Malory'

work, discourse is the major, sometimes the only tool for conveying meaning. The true

role of women in Le Morte Darthur (the subject of many misconceptions and erroneous

judgements) became evident in the course of the analysis of their speech.

In Christian philosophy there existed a common concept of union of genders as the

Head and the Body, in which woman was relegated to the latter role (Stephens, 1989).

This concept dominated over Medieval life and literature. Yet Malory's granted his

female characters the freedom of expression that defied relegation of women to the role

of the Body. The women of Le Morte Darthur find solutions to problems, which men

often find unsolvable, by advising, nagging, scolding, complimenting, threatening,

conflict managing and compromising. The combination of powerful and powerless

features in the speech of female personages reflects the struggle of Malory's heroines to

gain and maintain power in a society that relegated them to powerless positions.









Another concept, introduced by Saint Paul and cherished by medieval literature,

was that of earthly love as microcosmic reflection of macrocosmic heavenly love (Idid.).

Malory structured his work as an antithesis of Saint Paul's concept, conveyed through the

discourses of the principle female characters, Guinevere, Isode and Elayne, who thereby

became the proponents of earthly love and earthly life.

Some critics accuse the author of Le Morte Darthur of rejection of the spiritual

values, because Malory significantly reduced the theme of the Grail Quest and redefined

the purpose Knighthood as the protection of Women, as opposed to the protection of the

Church. Yet, in reality, these crucial alterations symbolize the elevation of the spiritual

value of earthly love, and the elevation of the role of women. Thus, it is not accidental

that Malory's philosophy, as well as the main message of his work are voiced by female

characters.

Sir Thomas Malory, faithful to the Oath of Knighthood that he himself has written,

protected the women ofLe Morte Darthur, not by idealizing them, or turning them into

moral tutors, but by empowering them, by letting them speak for all women and by

immortalizing their speech.
















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