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The Mists of Avalon Reader’s Guide

By Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Reading Group Questions and Topics for Discussion

  The Mists of Avalon revolves around a number of dualities: male/ female, Christianity/druidism, duty/desire. How are these duali-
ties represented in the book? Can you think of others that were


2.  How does the book strive to challenge common stereotypes? How does it reinforce them?


3.  Is Gwenhwyfar a sympathetic character? In your opinion, does Marion Zimmer Bradley treat physical beauty in a positive, negative, or neutral manner? Explain.


4.  How responsible is Arthur for allowing the spread of Christianity and ultimate disappearance of Avalon? Was he simply being an honorable husband to Gwenhwyfar? Did you find the Arthur, Lancelet, Gwenhwyfar tryst disturbing? Although Arthur was an indisputably potent leader, can he, in the end, be deemed an effective one?


5.  It seemed in several instances that Morgaine disappeared when
she was most needed. Was she ultimately successful in represent-
ing the Goddess? Would you say that she was a victim to her fate or that she ultimately rose to meet it? What parallels can you draw between Morgaine’s life and Igraine’s? Between Morgaine and Viviane?


6.  The Merlin seems to play an ambiguous role in the story. Do you agree with this statement? In your opinion, was he motivated more by his faith, or by pride and ambition?


7.  Throughout history, did the spread of Christianity really lead to a diminishing of tolerance? Does the Goddess have a place in today’s world? Do you think that Christianity ever held woman as the principal of evil?


8.  What symbolism, if any, would you apply to the dragon slain by Lancelet? What is the symbolism behind Excalibur? The Grail? The Holy Thorn?

9.  At the end of Mists, did you feel that the Goddess had truly been absorbed into Christianity?

10.  How has Mists changed your perception or understanding of the Arthurian legend? How has it changed your perception of women’s roles in the making (and telling) of history?

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