Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character--Morgaine (Morgan le Fay)

FFC is the brainchild of Ryan of Wordsmithonia.

My pick this week is a specific depiction of Morgan le Fay from one of my favorite books The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

A little background on the character from the book (from Wikipedia):

The book follows the trajectory of Morgaine (often called Morgan Le Fay in other works), a priestess fighting to save her matriarchal Celtic culture in a country where patriarchal Christianity threatens to destroy the pagan way of life. The book follows the lives of Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere), Viviane, Morgause and other women who are often marginalized in Arthurian retellings. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are supporting rather than main characters.

The Mists of Avalon is in stark contrast to other retellings of the Arthurian tales, which consistently paint Morgaine as a distant, one-dimensional evil witch or sorceress; with no real explanation given (or required) for her antipathy. In this case Morgaine is cast as a strong woman who has unique gifts and responsibilities at a time of enormous political and spiritual upheaval; as she is called upon to defend her indigenous matriarchal heritage against impossible odds. The Mists of Avalon stands as a watershed for feminist interpretation of male-centered myth by articulating women's experience at time of great change and shifts in gender-power. The typical battles, quests, and feuds of King Arthur's reign are described as supporting elements to the women's lives.

I am particularly fond of this retelling of the Arthurian legend, and Morgan le Fay, because it portrays Morgaine as a sympathetic character who sets into motion events entirely by accident and chance.  She does not willfully entice Arthur, her brother, into a tryst in order to bear a son by him...a son who will later seek revenge (Mordred).  The story of Morgaine and the other women in Mists is taken to the level of strong female characters fighting to preserve a way of life against the tide of male-dominated mentalities and Christianity. 

I recommend that you read The Mists of Avalon and see for yourself what an artfully created character Morgaine is in the book.  I also recommend that you rent the television mini-series of The Mists of Avalon.  Morgaine is portrayed by the excellent Julianne Margulies in the movie and it is a beautiful screen adaptation of the book.





11 comments:

I apologize for word verification, but I turned it off and had close to 50 spam comments within 12 hours (nobody has time for that) so I had to turn it back on. Sorry!

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  1. Oohhhh, I have been meaning to read this book for AGES! You've just reminded me of how WONDERFUL it looks!

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  2. I have just started reading this and I am really enjoying it. It is so big though.

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  3. I always enjoy reading about strong female heroines! This sounds like an enjoyable series.

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  4. I still haven't had a chance to read this series, but your description of the character makes me want to get started on it soon. Great choice this week.

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  5. Marion Zimmer Bradley did a fantastic job with Morgaine, and with the setting in general.

    Hi. I followed a link to you from This That and The Other Thing. You can find me at http://www.AliceAudrey.com

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  6. Yes, this was a terrific read! Makes me want to dust off my old copy and read it again!

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  7. I have not read the Mists of Avalon, I do have it though. I did see the movie and I do not often watch a movie more than once and rarely buy movies for that reason, but I did buy this one!! I loved it!!!

    Great review!!

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  8. Thanks everyone for stopping by! This book is definitely on my list as a reread...I loved it that much!

    Kathleen--I own the movie too and watch it from time to time. It is a really good adaptation.

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  9. This sounds like a great character. I have not read this book or even really heard of it till now. Thanks for sharing this wonderful character with us!

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  10. Gosh, it's been years and years since I've read this book (altho my copy is still on my shelves). I really should re-read it!

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  11. I remember reading and loving this book years ago, but I don't recall a thing about it. I've also been disappointed by every other book that I've read by Marion Zimmer Bradley, since this one, because none of them are quite as good.

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