Character Analysis Morgan le Fay


Morgan appears at Castle Hautdesert as an old woman in the company of the Lady of the castle. The poet's description of the beautiful young woman and the ugly old one reflects standard medieval rhetoric. Morgan has a position of honor at Hautdesert, sitting at the high table, but her relationship to Bertilak and his lady is unclear. Bertilak calls her "Morgan the Goddess," reflecting an extremely old mythic tradition, in which Morgan may be a survival of a Celtic goddess. In Arthurian legend, she was an enchantress and the lover of Merlin. She is Arthur's half-sister, but in most Arthurian tales she is the enemy of Camelot. According to Bertilak, his appearance at Camelot as the Green Knight was engineered by Morgan to frighten Guenevere to death. A Freudian interpretation might view Morgan as a distant and threatening mother figure. A feminist reading of Morgan might emphasize her role as the unseen mover of the entire action of plot. Her appearance as an ugly hag could be related to the mythical archetype of the wise crone, part of the triad of maid-mother-crone, a feminine representation of the cycles of life. Morgan is Gawain's aunt.