Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
In reading the romances of the Vulgate Cycle, one becomes accustomed to the role of Morgain la Fée, Arthur's sister, as a major villainess, usually plotting revenge against Lancelot and Guenevere. Therefore, this reversal of her role at the end of La Mort le Roi Artu, wherein she comes to take her wounded brother Arthur to Avalon, can seem out of keeping with the rest of her portrayal. In reality, though, this latter representation is the criginal one in Celtic legend. Thecries as to how she could have evolved into two such different personalities have given rise to three schools of thought on the matter. One group, the folklorists, traces the roots of Morgain's personality back to the Celtic goddesses, especially to the Morrigan. Another group believes her representation is due entirely to author's imagination and that each romancer contributed with time perhaps one incident or episode, or perhaps merely a detail, that was enlarged upon by his successors, or even omitted, as they saw fit for their story. The third group,the moderates, compromises between these first two by acknowledging that the frontiers of tradition and imagination are difficult, if not impossible to delineate. Their theory is that the romancers probably used both tradition and imagination as they created and that the ratio occurring in any one romance, besides being difficult to measure, is a matter of the individual author's taste. The theory of the moderates seems the most tenable and is the one to which this study will adhere, all the while, of course, never dismissing the importance of the contributions of the other two groups. While considering the ideas of these groups, this study will attempt to evaluate all their suggestions as to influences on the portrayal of Morgain la Fée in the Vulgate. Among these influences are Celtic and Latin traditions, the Christian religion, and the imaginations of the romancers already more sophisticated than the creators of the original legend of the fay of Avalon. It is hoped that a systematic study of these influences will then demonstrate that the development of Morgain's character in the Vulgate was a logical rather than a haphazard process.
Land, Patricia Ann, "The Representation of Morgain La Fée in the Vulgate Cycle Romances" (1979). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5134.
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