In her paper, 'A Bad Girl will Love you to Death", Janet Knepper gives a poignant exploration of a rather sad and pitiable character in the Stanzaic Morte Arthur. In a way, it seems as if the reader is led to devalue the Maid of Ascolot (MoA) as a character. As Knepper mentions, the MoA's "effictio is truncated and dismissive ... No blond hair, no shining grey eyes", none of the formulaic descriptors readers come to expect from the blazon; "the Maid's effictio basically just gives her a red face." On top of this diminished and vague physical description, the MoA's "histrionic passion" and her actions are excessive and off-putting, which seems to me a rather smart move on the part of the writer, for the reader is put in the same uncomfortable position as Lancelot who can but awkwardly deny her advances. (Knepper 230).
Lancelot is put in an unfair position for the MoA states "her love as a case of life or death"(230). Unfortunately, as we find out later, this is truly the case, for she arrives in a boat with a letter expressing the outcome of unrequited love. But while she yet lives, she is "an object of pity" for Lancelot, and this pity is what ultimately causes the drama between Lancelot and Gaynor, because he gives up his armor and shield at the MoA's request. Knepper says that "these requests cause disruption and confusion in the sign-system of courtly love and chivalric identification." Indeed, this confusion transfers to Gawain's confusion, for why else would the MoA possess Lancelot's equipment? Knepper makes a similar statement saying the Maid "deliberately misuses the signs of courtly culture, and her manipulations and lies cause grief and disruption," and even Gawain is, as a result, shamed by this, for he is made to report a falsehood which he believes to be true.
After thinking more deeply about the Lady of Ascolot's role in the story it becomes a bit difficult to feel pity for her for the severe amount of disruption she causes.