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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Third question

Ok, here's one more question that I have been mulling over:

(Brooke, the Igraine/Viviane references are in my comments on my last post)
(Em, the bit where Morgaine realises she has become the fairy queen is near the end, the rest is extrapolation ... but the fairy queen looks very like Morgaine).

Isn't it funny that, in a book which so ostensibly grieves over the passing over of the matriarchal Great goddess/priestess/king stag culture for a patriarchal Christian god culture (where the goddess = the whore of babylon, fertility rites = sinful etc.), all the major male characters are portrayed as being so f***ed up, sorry please excuse my language but you get what I mean, by their relationships or lack of to their mothers/mother figure?

I mean, Lancelot ... would have made a great team with Morgaine, and no tragedy with Gwen (or tragedy for Camelot), but sorry Morgaine looks too like Viviane ... and who looks the opposite of Viviane? Gwen ... with whom Lancelot, read between the lines, doesn't really want to consumate their relationship (and what about the implications of the homosexual contents? Is it the old Kleinein bad devouring mother = impotent/homosexual son here? Does Lancelot finally do it with Elaine (whom he mistakes for Gwen) to prove his manhood?

Arthur: his "real" mother figure is Morgaine, the sister he remembers taking care of him as a baby. Who does Gwen resemble? His mother Igraine. His "respect" for Gwen, (his pathetic craving in yes, but also because Arthur is a gentleman and yes, new age man who totally respects his wife to the extent that he will not put her aside using reason that she's barren and take a new fertile wife, which is something Gwen probbaly wants but is a) too much of a coward b)likes her position as queen too much c) maybe doesn't want to hurt Arthur, anyway, could his respect for Gwen be a holdover from his childhood feelings that his mom never loved him or had time for him, and so he is unconsciously trying to win his mother/Gwen over by pleasing her? Oh yeah, and also because having Gwen is the closest he can "get" to Lancelot.

Arthur's cousins/Lot's son ... is their Christianity a reaction to their mother's (Morgause, queen of air and darkness) obvious pagan powers, matriarchal power still being practised in Lothian? And obviously, Mordred wouldn't be such a problem if a)Morgaine had lived up to her responsibilities, send him to be fostered properly, and brought up with the druids b)Morgause didn't hate Arthur so much as a leftover of her anger at Viviane for not being chosen for Uther (and why not her anyway? I mean, if the souls entwinned was Viviane's + Uther, then Morgause would have been qualified as a substitute in terms of bloodlines anyway. Who's to say she would have been any worse than pious Igraine?)

So, the 3 women of the first generation: Viviane (high preistess/religious power), Igraine (high queen/earthly power), Morgause (socceress/dark powers, also wild card); and their younger counterparts: Morgaine (ditto), Gwen and Elaine (pale shadow of Morgause but she did use soccery via Morgaine to get Lance into bed with her, maybe also her daughter who does become a priestess and uses her powers to ensnare Kevin the Merlin ... but also makes the younger generation more of a dialectic than a triad (maiden/mother/crone) so less balanced) ... so much feminine power and influence when the Arthurian saga traditionally all about men who jousted, fought battles and went on quests to rescued maidens in distress, but more to the point, so much power (both behind the scenes and pyschologically) used wrongly (Morgaine) if not actually abused (Gwen and maybe Viviane?), or not used when needed (Morgaine again). It's like, oh, ok, the book is all about the women behind the men ... the actual influence of events .... but it ends up NOT being empowering BECAUSE ... these women all use their powers wrongly! Is it, thank God it's now a patriarchal culture because then we won't have these poor sods of psychologically abused sons ...

I am wondering, have we, after all, ended up at the same place as more traditional versions of the Arthurian saga where Morgaine (normally confused with Morgause, actually) is portrayed as a witch who deliberately seduces her brother? Has the patriarchal culture won in MOA? Tell me one thing which these powerful women did that was NOT harmful, whether in the name of the Goddess or the Christian God. That peaceful consolatary resolution at the end, where oh the goddess lives on in the Virgin Mary so everything is cool, the power and influence of women has been subtly if not openly acknowleged ... I don't know. Why would I want women to be powerful if all they can do is mess guys up?

ok, that's a rhetorical, I am a woman not a guy in disguise ... just seems to me the book can give the 'wrong" message if you think about it.

4 comments:

Lana said...

I never really looked at the book this way. I will have to seriously mull it over. I guess you could get the wrong message from the book, I do agree.

Another thought I had on why some of the "magic" and events turned wrong...was so much magical meddling was going on by several of the characters.

I do see the connection of Gwen and Igraine looking so much alike in looks and attitude, and Arthur's respect could stem from that. Good Point.

Also, Arthur's love for Lancelot. Sometimes I got the feeling he loved Lancelot more than his wife. I was not sure of what sort of love exactly. I got the homosexual vibe about it, sometimes.

I will also agree...that Mordrid would have been completely different had morgaine stuck around and raised the boy as she should have and then had him fostered properly. I also feel that leaving Mordrid to be raised by a somewhat vindictive Morgause was not the best choise for Morgaine to make. I always felt Morgause had a plan and wanted to use Mordrid against Vivianne/Arthur, etc.

Just some of my observances...

MaryBeth said...

You are saying some of the same things I have been saying for years, and which most women get angry with me about! lol

But you have to look at the author. MZB was mainly christian when she wrote this, she actually became a christian minister. She believed in women's empowerment, yet she was very tied up in today's patriarchal cultural. She could never quite make the step away from it totally, hence even in the books, she ends with everyone going back to *god* with the Goddess in a subservient role.

I would love to see such a story written by a totally Pagan woman. I think it would be VERY different.

Linda said...

I also had mixed feelings about the women in this book - if it's so "feminist" why do so many of the female characters make the wrong decisions? I guess my feeling is that women aren't perfect (just like men). Some are good, some are bad, some want to do the right thing but can't, and some are just ignorant. I think MZB did a good job of showing all sides of people - positive and negative. If the goddess culture prevailed there's no guarantee that Britain would become a perfect society, just as Christianity/patriarchal society does not guarantee a perfect society, either.

As MZB has shown that women can be in charge of their own destiny, the men in the book are ultimately responsible for their own actions, too. For example, Mordred was incredibly used by Morgause, but he is an adult when he betrays Arthur and capable of deciding whether to go along with her plans or not. Besides, you could say Lot messed up Morgause when he first told her to kill Mordred as a baby...

What a fun topic! Ok, back to knitting!

Ann said...

I've been thinking this over and it really does come through that the women are powerful, but are constsntly making mistakes, and the men are weak.
I think, as Linda said above, that even if Britain had stayed Goddess oriented, we would still have many of the same problems. There are greedy, power-hungry people everywhere - men and women. (As Morgause is in the book.)
The whole Igraine/Gwen reflection makes a lot of sense. Many guys want to marry their moms anyway. (As a redhead, I've met many guys that have redheaded moms and have a thing for redheads. I never dated those for long!)
Then Lancelot's whole odd deal. I do think he was just gay, but fighting it, and Gwen was the closest he could get to Arthur, so it worked. (Interestingly enough, in Spamalot, Lance is gay. Also, in a Simpsons episode, Homer fusses at Marge's gay friend, telling him that gays "stole all our best names like Bruce, Julian and Lance". Just a side note.)

But, I kind of think that even if men had been in power in this book, they would have screwed things up too. I think MZB's whole tone was that nobody's perfect, and that maybe humans are gonna screw things up whatever we do. That does seem to be the case.

I like the Fairy Queen/Margaine duality thing. I had not thought of that before.