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Analytical Psychology Approach to the Love-Hate Relationship between King Arthur and Morgan le Fay in Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur

Analytical Psychology Approach to the Love-Hate Relationship between King Arthur and Morgan le Fay in Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur

Gurevitch, Danielle (Bar Ilan University)

MIRATOR, OCTOBER (2005)

Abstract

The emotional reaction of the enchantress in Thomas Malory’s famous narrative from c. 1470 is both surprising and problematic. Morgan seems to express sincere sorrow upon seeing her mortally wounded half-brother, a behavior that stands in complete opposition to her political determination to sabotage Arthur’s kingship, as well as to the regicidal and fratricidal character she is most identified with in the course of this narrative.

My aim in the present paper is first, to closely examine the meaning of the emotional change presented in this final episode, and second, to provide a plausible explanation for the puzzling ending of Arthur’s long reign in the Malorean saga, where Morgan le Fay, the King’s most bitter rival, is the one chosen to be his companion for eternity. My reading provides what to a modern audience is a psychological explanation of Morgan’s ambiguous words to her deadly wounded brother. I would like to argue that the emotional turning point on the barge is but the tip of the iceberg, for a closer reading could reveal many preliminary signs preparing the reader for the possible union between these two extremely different characters. In fact, I would like to argue that in context, the scene creates both a conscious and unconscious link between love and death in a way that transcends the realm of popular fiction and enters the sphere of the collective subconscious and the ethics of the real, pertaining to the field of psychoanalytical study.

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