In “The Place of Women in the Morte Darthur,” author Elizabeth Edwards explores positioning as the actual physical location of women along with the assignment of a conceptual place in a text as it indicates social positioning. Regarding the latter in Malory’s Arthurian tales, she pays close attention to what she calls geometric positioning. Within male to female relationships, she focuses on the triangle: a three-way romantic and/or sexual relationship.
In Malory’s saga, Gareth acquires the nickname of Beaumains while disguised and working in the kitchen. His exploits to prove himself as a knight lead him to help Lynette rescue her endangered sister, Lyonesse. Lynette is shown in a structurally superior position: an elite woman who scorns the supposed kitchen-boy. In contrast, Lyonesse, is both geographically isolated and in a structurally subordinate position as she is physically confined within a castle. The complexity of female positioning is emphasized by Gareth’s foe, the Red Knight, who is fighting to prove himself to a woman. Gareth’s subordinate status is confirmed by his dependence on Lynette, whose magical intervention is needed to free Lyonesse so she can reciprocate Gareth’s love.
In the Lais of Marie de France, the geographical position of the queen is highly significant. She is physically imprisoned by her husband. Her actual location initially corresponds to her spiritual and emotional position, as she is subordinate in status to the king as well as deprived of love and society. By breaching her prison, Guigemar opens up her inner self although she remains physically confined. Their bond is symbolized by the knot and buckle they exchange The geometrical position of triangle is similar to what Edwards proposes, but the queen loves only Guigemar, not her husband. He retaliates against her for the affair by increasing the level of confinement: he shuts her up in a tower, where she stays for two years. When she physically escapes, the liberation of her heart becomes complete when she and her lover undo their symbolic fastenings.