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May 2016

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Arthurian Things post #6 - Morgana le Fae

I can't recall where, exactly, my love for Morgana came from. It was definitely before I was aware of Mists of Avalon, because I remember playing with others in the SCA, and when we played at being in Camelot, I always wanted to be Morgana. Part of it was the fact that evil characters are just more interesting. All Guenivere did was sit around and eat bonbons or need to be rescued. Or macked on any Knight who let her... :P

Mists of Avalon only increased my love for her, and made it difficult for me to watch things like Excalibur, where she's so unrepentantly evil with no obvious reason other than peevishness. Which isn't to say I didn't love her in Excalibur (hell, how can you not love Helen Mirren?), it's just that her reasoning leaves a lot to be desired. Plus, a Morgana without dark hair just seems wrong.

Then there was Helena's Morgana. I only watched the Merlin Mini-series once. She was a kind of freak (not surprising, given it was Helena), so that made her difficult to watch as well. Even though I was ready to love her version to the ends of the earth.

I was quite glad when the Mists Mini-series finally made it to TV, though it really didn't do justice to the story. The book has so many little details, it would have been hard to get them all in. Juliana Margoles was all right, but I'm not a fan, and this didn't make me one, either. It was just a lackluster version of a great book.

So it wasn't until BBC's Merlin came on the air that I finally saw the Morgana I truly loved: Katie McGrath. Katie brings everything to the table--looks, style, grace, and a seeming understanding of a lady and how she would hold herself. No, the show's not perfectly medieval, but I adored her. I only wished the writers had been willing to more slowly develop her evil, instead of forcing it the way they did and making it seem almost comical.

Even so, Katie manages to shine, when Morgana is truly feeling things, as opposed to plotting or leering evilly. You can see her heartbreak at losing Gwen, or her anger at Uther for what he's done to her and others. Her confusion over her powers in the second season was especially well-acted, and if they'd moved slower at the end of that season, I could easily see her sink into vengeance and madness.

There is one honorable mention here, too. Eva Green's Morgan in the Stars series, Camelot. Though she was unrepentant in her evil, we could not only see her suffering, but her reasoning, even if it was flawed. I had high hopes for her character. Too bad the series was cancelled in the first season...

I think the reason I prefer Morgana over others is that as a character, there's so much to draw from. Depending on the legends you choose, she can have up to nine (yes, nine, there is a mention in a legend or two) sisters, not to mention her brother. And Mordred, whether nephew or son, is always an excellent ally. Not to mention her sister's other sons (of which Gawain is my particular favorite).

But most of all? I love the incestuousness between she and Arthur (when it's there--I tend to gravitate toward those stories that have it). I love the angst, danger, and evil inherent because of that liaison, which is why I tend to prefer her as Mordred's mother over Morgause. And, deep down, I believe that Morgana both hates and loves Arthur, and it is that confusion that drives her to fight against him time and again.

So...who's your favorite Arthurian Character, and why?

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