Recently I've seen many, many rude comments or posts about Morgana Pendragon. Yes, from my username, everyone can tell she is my favorite character, but that's a completely different story. On this blog post, I am going to present Morgana's contributions to the overall story of Merlin and prove that she is one of the most important characters to the show.
Before anything started
Morgana is the daughter of Vivienne and Uther Pendragon. Uther, "for Arthur's sake", and probably because Gorlois was one of his best friends(although he went with his wife, anyway) and allies, did not reveal Vivienne's adultery, and Morgana grew up believing Gorlois was her father. Between the two we know that a bond of excess love existed between the two, but we know nothing about Morgana's bond with her mother, as well as the latter's fate.
At some point, when Morgana was only around 10 years old, Uther failed to send reinforcements to Gorlois (intentionally or unintentionally, I don't know) and so he died. After Gorlois' death, Uther took the responsibility of bringing up Morgana, his illegitimate daughter, because she probably had noone in the world now.
Morgana's life in Camelot was not easy either. Sure, she grew up as a princess, she had Arthur, a very good friend and rival sometimes, but that didn't change the fact that she believed she was growing up with the "murderer" of her father. According to Uther, she fought him from the first day she arrived at Camelot. His magic-hating attitude, as well as her constant dreams of the future, in addition with Gaius' inability to help a magically growing Morgana, made her feel fear every day another sorcerer was exposed, because she knew that she may have been the next one. Her powers were controllable, though, as a child and teen, so she didn't have anything to fear for herself.
In Season 1
From the very first episode, it is visible that Morgana is the only one who doesn't enjoy sending a man to his death because he had magic. Her fear and worry were easily visible, when in the window she witnessed the man being executed, turning away from discust when his head is chopped off. She also denies to go to the celebration, but since Uther forces her to, she puts on the mask of the "princess" and obeys, not giving the impression of a troubling teen, but of a stunningly beautiful princess, Uther's ward.
She is very compassionate, fair and just. She treats Gwen as a friend and an equal, she cares for the people, she cares even for "lowly servants", to the point that she volunteered to get in trouble only to convince Arthur to go and get the Mortaeus blooms to save Merlin. This is how she originally is, but things soon change.
Soon, we, as viewers, get a glimpse of her powers. She constantly dreams of dangers surrounding Arthur, namely Valiant's magical shield, or Sophia, or the Questing Beast. She doesn't know what is going on with her. She talks to Arthur and tries to warn him, but he always pushes her aside and thinks she is exaggerating. Gaius always gives her heavier and heavier drugs. Gwen is there for her whenever she has a bad dream, but there is nothing she can do, as her view on magic is negative, as all of Camelot's. This way, even from the first season, Morgana begins to envelop herself in solitude and darkness, although it's still not visible to everyone.
This darkness first reveals itself in "To Kill the King". Uther kills Gwen's father without a fair trial, because he thinks that the man is involved in magic. Morgana angrily demands to know what Uther was thinking, and he didn't like the disrespectful way she spoke to him, so he locked her up in the dungeons. Morgana is convinced now that Uther will never change, and, as she says, "it keeps on happening", meaning more and more innocents die because of him. In order to avenge both Gwen, herself, and the magical beings he's killed their families, Morgana decides to put an end to him, and so allies with Tauren. However, after Uther displays signs of remorse, Morgana changes her mind and saves his life, her kind nature prevailing this time.
In Season 2
To me, Morgana in series 2 resembles in nothing the Morgana of series 1. In season 1 she was confident, she was a fighter, and sometimes reckless. In season 2, her magic powers increase and day after day reveal their presence even more. Morgana is now a frightened girl rather than a confident woman. No one believes her and no one understands her, even those who should have, like Gaius. This season, even Gwen and Morgana have distanced themselves a bit more. Morgana is all alone, with magic, in a magic-hating kingdom that kills anyone suspected of magic. She feels like a monster, and doesn't know what is going on with her. She even goes to Merlin and wants someone to finally acknowledge that she has magic, but even that does not happen.
Meanwhile, Merlin learns that Morgana will be a witch and that, if she learns the full extent of her powers, she will be Camelot's doom. Little did Merlin and Kilgharrah know, that by not helping her, they are the ones to turn her to that evil witch they knew about. Merlin sends her to the druids, where she lives some moments of true peace, both in her heart and environment. Soon, however, Arthur arrives with Uther's men, and they, thinking that Morgana was kidnapped, slaughter them all, all except from Mordred. Unwillingly, Morgana is once again forced to return to the place she feared and hated the most. She acts like she is fine, which she is obviously not. She was not okay with 1 man dying in season 1, imagine seeing many men you made friends with getting slaughtered by men looking for you!
Soon after this, she met with Morgause. She instantly felt a bond between her and the priestess, but was reluctant to say what it is. Morgause made things easier for Morgana, welcoming her, as a magical being. She also helped her get rid of her nightmares, which Morgana suffered from greatly. Morgause, however, is not the only ally Morgana makes. The sorcerer Alvarr and Mordred ask for her help in order to retrive the crystal of Neahtid, and she reluctantly helps them. She makes friends with Alvarr but, although she wanted to help the magical beings, she is torn in half when she learns that they want to attack Camelot and cause many men to die, only to reach Uther. After Alvarr is defeated by an ambush led by Arthur, Alvarr is to be executed. Morgana confronts Uther about it, but he doesn't change his mind. So, Morgana commits treason, by helping the enemy escape. Uther and Morgana are now officially enemies.
When the chance to get rid of the magic-hating Uther arrives, Morgana agrees to help Morgause. However, she becomes the victim of the latter's enchantment, unbeknownst to her. Everybody around her falls to a slumber, and she is scared that her magic will be found out. Merlin (from her point of view) acts like he protects her secret in the beginning, but, in the end betrays her, and poisons her, and Morgana loses her last friend in Camelot. Morgause arrives and saves her, leaving Camelot once and for all.
Morgana spends a year with Morgause. Away from all those who betrayed her in the past, she learns that being magical isn't a crime. She returns, with a sole purpose and mission: Get rid of Uther Pendragon once and for all. In the beginning, she is friendly towards Arthur, Gwen and Gaius, but things change after she finds out she is Uther's daughter.
Instantly after learning the truth, Morgana is visibly shaken, and willing to go back. She finally knew that she had her father next to her all these years. However, when she asks from Uther to accept it, he denies it. This crumbled everything inside Morgana. To her, Uther was now a hypocrite, one who doesn't accept his own flesh and blood in order to hide his own sins. Arthur, Uther's legitimate son, and Uther, and every ally of them, would go down. She was the only one that no one was willing to accept. No one except Morgause. Arthur had Gwen, Merlin had everyone else, Gwen had Arthur, and no one needed her anymore. No one, except Morgause. The one who taught her magic. The only one who accepted her. The one who "saved her, and made her feel like she wasn't a monster". Without second thought, she was now willing to go againist not only Uther, but everyone in her way to the throne. Arthur would not accept magic, his previous assaults to magical beings proved that, and Gwen grew up in a magic-hating kingdom, like Arthur. Only she could be the one to bring the change Camelot so craves. So she is determined to take the throne.
She also foresees Gwen becoming queen. Her maid, the one she used to protect with her life and determined to go to the dungeons for her, would betray her, and steal her throne. Gwen never tried as hard as her, and she was not of royal blood, yet she had everything Morgana did not have: Arthur's love, as well as the love of everyone in Camelot, and, soon, the crown. From Morgana's side, this was unfair. Simply because she was born a bastard child of Uther and a magical woman had caused her to go through all this suffering. A wave of pure jealousy ran inside her, determining her to do everything in order to prevent her vision from coming true.
After many attempts, she and Morgause succeed and take over Camelot. Even though she is proved to be of royal blood, the king's offspring, still, no one accepts her. Not the ones she once was willing to put her life on the line for, like the people of Camelot, not the knights, not Merlin and not even her maid, who also betrayed her soon. Although still unacceptable, she tried to use brutal means to have everyone in Camelot obey her, even killing innocents. A desperate move from someone who craves to be accepted. In medieval times, I don't know if this was a "smart move", in order to rule through fear, or not, but today it is something unacceptable, to which I agree. Still, I think that the above more or less explains her motives. Be it fear, rage that she will never be accepted, or simply some "necessary sacrifices", anyone can give his/her own explanations.
Soon after she is betrayed by Gwen, Arthur arrives and Morgause is somehow injured gravely. The only person Morgana had in life who loved her, was now lying unconscious. Morgana promises revenge and with that, she teleports out of Camelot.
Now a High Priestess
After that, Morgause was slowly running out of time. It can be presumed that she taught Morgana everything she knew and that would be beneficial to her in order to be able to get the throne of Camelot in the future. Morgana, although deeply attached to Morgause, knew that her sister was dying. Not wanting to give Arthur the pleasure of killing her, Morgause chooses to have Morgana sacrifice her, so that her death will not be in vain. Morgana summons the Dorocha and wrecks havock in Camelot, until Arthur, for one more time, manages to thwart her plans.
Morgana is now all alone in the world. With no one to love her or to still love, she lives in complete solitude (Agravaine does not count!). She now lives for the sole purpose Morgause gave her life for: Reclaim Camelot. Killing Arthur or Gwen would be equal to her being queen again, as her visions won't come true with them dead. She learns of Emrys, a man that is bound to kill her. A traitor, a magical being, who had allied with Arthur. Without Morgause, Morgana did not know how to deal with this man, so she just tried to ignore him.
Soon, a chance to finally kill Uther Pendragon arrives. Morgana takes the opportunity and in the end achieves to kill him. However, after this, she is not happy, as she thought, but depressed, as she "felt his pain". This probably does not refer to "physical pain", but much worse, emotional one. She remembered her father, and how things might have evolved different between the two, had he accepted her or her magic. As for the use of this, simple: Kill Uther, and Arthur, an inexperienced and broken emotionally king will take the throne, which will make things easier for her.
She makes more attempts to kill Arthur, but Emrys continuously thwarts her plans. She soon openly confronts him, and questions his loyalty to Arthur, as only she can bring magic back to the land. She then strikes him down, but, since she does not deliver the final blow, Emrys is able to get up and defeat her, almost killing her. After this, Morgana is determined to learn his identity. However, one after another, her allies turn againist her, first being Annis, then Alator, making her trust in people even less and more of a lonely individual.
She learns that Arthur proposes to Gwen, so she resurrects Lancelot. She feels utterly sad, once again, after she does so, remembering all his former glory that was lost.
Anyway, she realises her sister's dream and takes over Camelot once again. She ridicules the knights day and night, in order to make her own men feel superior, and have them win, in case a battle between hers and Arthur's men breaks. Not because she enjoys torturing them. It is a politically/psychologically smart move. Anyway, she soon learns Agravaine, her "pawn" died. Sad for his death and scared of Emrys, she lied in wait of Arthur's arrival...
Arthur once again arrives. Morgana awaits for him in the throne room, determined to kill him. He arrives, but does not immediately strike her down, as she expected, but tries to reason with her. Once again, her truer, good nature resurfaces. He tells her that he thought they were friends. She agrees to that, probably remembering how he lied to her, or did not listen to her, or how he killed all those magic men and kept up his father's dynasty. Although the two seem like they are about to reconsile for a while, Arthur tells her how much she looks like to Uther. Uther, the man she hated the most. This drives her mad and, unable to control her anger, attempts to stun them all on the spot, but fails, due to Emrys' trick.Conclusion: Morgana thinks she has lost all love for her former friends, and thinks she has finally gotten rid of the feelings making her vulnerable. However, Uther's death, and Lancelot's ressurection, or her talk with Arthur prove that this is wrong, and that she is still attached to her former friends, making her not a heartless and ruthless person, but a complex character who struggles between sparing or killing the ones she has to for the "greater good". She thinks she can kill them, or forget about them but fails to do so. Although confident at the beginning, she loses all the confidence once she sees how Arthur is not willing to fight her, or when she realises what she's done to Lancelot, or when she remembers of Uther. Let's also take into account that Morgause's influence is now no more, and Morgana may be able to think more and more clearly. In addition, let's not forget that she never had the heart to kill someone herself. She's never tried to do it to Merlin, and she did not bear to watch Gwen getting killed, once she had her at her complete mercy. Even the second time, some moments of hesitation in killing her were enough for her to lose.
She spent a long time in prison, captured and tortured by magic-haters. It is a given that her vengeance will be far greater than ever before.
How this character has contributed to the show
I'm not asking any of you to love Morgana or to become Morgana fans. Just not to hate so passionately on the character. Above, I presented her point of view, but if this did not the trick, then I will present her numerous contributions to the show:
- Morgana is the only character who has gone from good to evil with reasons to do so, making her one of the most believable and good villains.
- She has saved Arthur's life numerous times in the first two seasons.
- Same for Gwen.
- Same for Merlin and Camelot.
- She highly contributed to making Arthur this legendary king. She always told him what was wrong and what was right, and she convinced him save Merlin's life in the first season, because a king that does not save the life of a lowly servant and listens to his father cannot be considered a good king.
- Without her, stories like the love triangle between Lancelot/Gwen/Arthur or Uther's death would be complete failures. As Gwen going back to loving Lancelot once again would be terrible writing.
- She has made Merlin and Arthur stronger through her various challenges throughout series 3 and 4.
- She ultimately caused Gwen become queen, just as Merlin caused her to be an evil witch.
- She is a traditional tragic character. Ruthlessness comes in the description usually.
- Ultimately, she is destined to bring the old ways back! Like it or not, it is her destiny. She may or may not reconcile with Arthur, but Morgana will not die, at least not before she realises her goal, which is also what Merlin wants to do from the start of the show.
That is all. This
very long blog post is now over. Thanks for reading the whole thing or parts of it! I hope you enjoyed, or at least that it caused some brainstorming.