Chris Dietzel Biography & Facts
The Matter of Britain character Morgan le Fay (often known as Morgana, and sometimes also as Morgaine and other names) has been featured many times in various works of modern culture, often but not always appearing in villainous roles. Some modern stories merge Morgana's character with her sister Morgause or with aspects of Nimue (the Lady of the Lake). Her manifestations and the roles given to her by modern authors vary greatly, but typically she is being portrayed as a villainess associated with Mordred.
Her stereotypical image, then, is of a seductive, megalomaniacal, power-hungry sorceress who wishes to destroy Camelot and overthrow King Arthur, and is a fierce rival of the mage Merlin. Contemporary interpretations of the Arthurian myth sometimes assign to Morgana the role of seducing Arthur and giving birth to the wicked knight Mordred, though traditionally his mother was Morgause, Morgana's sister; in these works Mordred is often her pawn, used to bring about the end of the Arthurian age. Examples of modern Arthurian works featuring Morgana in a role a major antagonist include characters in both the DC Comics (Morgaine le Fey) and Marvel Comics (Morgan le Fay) comic book universes. Some other Arthurian fiction, however, casts Morgana in the various positive or at least more ambivalent roles, and some have her as a protagonist and sometimes a narrator.
Morgan le Fay has become ubiquitous in Arthurian works of modern culture, spanning mostly fantasy and historical fiction across various mediums including literature, comics, film, and television. As Elizabeth S. Sklar noted in 1992: "Currently a cornerstone of the new Arthurian mythos, [she] occupies a secure position in the contemporary Arthurian pantheon, as familiar a figure to modern enthusiasts as Merlin, Lancelot, or King Arthur himself." Additionally, she has become an archetype serving as a source of tropes for many characters in other modern works, some of them borrowing her name in the form Morgana. As in the case of other modern Arthuriana, Le Morte d'Arthur is the dominant source today.
Prior to her 20th-century resurgence, however, Morgan had been largely absent from modern Arthuriana. The relatively few exceptions of an actual Morgan character include William Morris's epic poem The Earthly Paradise (1870), retelling the story of Morgan and Ogier the Dane. In his popular and often-adapted satirical novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), Mark Twain cast Morgan le Fay as a deceptively charmful representative of feudal corruption, who is also capable of the most vicious behavior and flirts with the time-travelling protagonist Hank Morgan, her namesake and essentially similar character or even a double (one film adaptation, A Knight in Camelot, stars Whoopi Goldberg as the female protagonist Vivien Morgan who is the only Morgan character in this version, sharing her first name also with one of the names of the Lady of the Lake; Kim Iverson Headlee also wrote the book's continuation novel from Morgan le Fay's own perspective, King Arthur's Sister in Washington's Court).
Since the early 20th century, most modern works feature Morgan as a sorceress and sometimes a priestess, and usually a half-sister of Arthur and sometimes a femme fatale, but some also have her in other roles, including as a fairy or an otherwise non-human character. Many authors effectively merge Morgan with Morgause (traditionally a sister of Morgan and the mother of Mordred from an incestuous union with their brother Arthur) and combine her with the less savory aspects of the Lady of the Lake (this is further positioning a modern Morgan as a nemesis for Merlin, who has never been truly her foe in the medieval Arthurian lore). Such a composite character is then often turned into Mordred's mother or partner. An early instance of such simplifications used to "streamline the plot" was Henry Irving's 1895 stage production King Arthur originally written by W. G. Wills.Modern authors' versions of Morgan have her usually appear in conventionally villainous roles of a witchlike and irreconcilable enemy of Arthur, recurrently in league with Arthur's bastard son Mordred; be it in the time of the legend or still continuing her feud in the modern era, where she also may be just ruthlessly questing for power or even represent motiveless malevolence. Such Morgan is often devoid of nuances as a merely one-dimensional caricature, examples of which include the portrayals of her in several television films such as Merlin and the Sword (1985, played by Candice Bergen), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1995, played by Theresa Russell) and Arthur's Quest (1999, played by Catherine Oxenberg). According to Kevin J. Harty, already in the 1953 film Knights of the Round Table she did exhibit "the sexual wiles as well as the deceit and jealousy by now stereotypical for her character." Sklar described a modern stereotype of Morgan as "the very embodiment of evil dedicated to the subversion of all forms of governance, express[ing] the fears that inevitably accompany the sort of radical cultural change represented by the social realities and ideological imperatives of escalating female empowerment during this (20th) century...a composite of all the patriarchal nightmare-women of literary tradition: Eve, Circe, Medea and Lady Macbeth compressed into a single, infinitely menacing package," and whose "sexuality exceeds even that of her prototype and serves as the chief vehicle for her manipulation of others." Notable examples of this pattern are two comic book supervillainesses, Morgan le Fay (created by Stan Lee and Joe Maneely in 1955) in the Marvel Universe and Morgaine le Fey (created by Jack Kirby in 1972) in the DC Universe. A modern Morgan is often an antagonist character for Arthur, Merlin and their followers to overcome and save Camelot, Avalon, or the entire world. Even in Excalibur (1981), John Boorman's film adaptation of Le Morte d'Arthur, the evil Morgana le Fay (played by Helen Mirren) meets her end at the hands of Mordred, her son in the film, instead of accompanying Arthur to Avalon as she did in the source material.
Nevertheless, other modern versions of Morgan's character can be more sympathic or ambiguous, or even present her as in an entirely positive light, and some also feature her as a protagonist of a story. Alan Lupack noted in 2007 that a modern Morgan has evolved to become "a woman whose own values and concerns [have] become central in some retellings of the Arthurian story;" Fiona Tolhurst pointed out how "some contemporary novelists sanitize or justify" Morgan's origins as "the oversexed counter-hero in most medieval Arthurian texts." One notable example of this trend is Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon (1983), an influential novel that was later adapted into a television miniseries; other such positions in modern literature, sometimes told in first person from her point of view, inc.... Discover the Chris Dietzel popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Chris Dietzel books.