Le Morte d’Arthur

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Morgan le Fay Character Analysis

A sorceress and Arthur’s half-sister, who often attempts to trick the knights of the Round Table. Morgan symbolizes all that is both alluring and frightening about women for the men in this story. She is beautiful and often is involved with one affair or another, but she is also bent on getting what she wants, whether it is plotting to replace Arthur with her own lover on the throne, or trapping Launcelot in a castle for her own purposes. There is a near-constant slippage in the book between women characterized as witches and women who just “use” witchy, magical tools to gain their will—another way of describing the peculiar kind of power to which women, barred from so many other elements of knightly life, have access.

Morgan le Fay Quotes in Le Morte d’Arthur

The Le Morte d’Arthur quotes below are all either spoken by Morgan le Fay or refer to Morgan le Fay. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Le Morte d’Arthur published in 1970.
Book 9 Quotes

Queen Morgan loved Sir Launcelot best, and ever she desired him, and he would never love her nor do nothing at her request, and therefore she held many knights together for to have taken him by strength. And because she deemed that Sir Launcelot loved Queen Guenever paramour, and she him again, therefore Queen Morgan le Fay ordained that shield to put Sir Launcelot to a rebuke, to that intent that King Arthur might understand the love between them.

Related Characters: King Arthur, Queen Guenever, Sir Launcelot du Lake, Morgan le Fay
Page Number: Vol 1, 464
Explanation and Analysis:

As will be the case for much of the rest of the story, everyone but Arthur seems to know about the love between Launcelot and Guenever, and various characters, out of jealousy or plotting, seek to reveal the truth to Arthur. Morgan, one of these plotters, is motivated by her own lustful feelings for Launcelot (and so she is seemingly jealous of Guenever), and also has long hated Arthur and devised various schemes against him.

Morgan le Fay is one of the consistent villains of the book, but she is also one of the best examples of a powerful, independent woman—she is a queen by her own right, seemingly commands the loyalty of many knights, takes and discards her own lovers without marrying them, and has access to powerful and dangerous magic.

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Book 10 Quotes

Sir, she said, wit you well that ye be a prisoner, and worse than ye ween; for my lady, my cousin Morgan le Fay, keepeth you here for none other intent but for to do her pleasure with you when it liketh her.

O Jesu defend me, said Alisander, from such pleasure; for I had liefer cut away my hangers than I would do her such pleasure.

Related Characters: Alisander (speaker), Morgan le Fay
Page Number: Vol 2, 74
Explanation and Analysis:

Morgan le Fay has spirited Alisander away to her castle and has given him a sleeping potion. When he wakes up, he meets the rightful owner of the castle, Morgan's cousin, who shares Morgan's evil plans with Alisander. Alisander is shocked and angry - he vows never to accede to Morgan's desires. While other women in the work are shown to be naturally seductive to men, who fall in love with them without any power over their feelings, Morgan is portrayed as actively scheming in her personal relationships. In a similar way, she renders men powerless against her tricks and schemes, but the power she has over them is described not as romantic but as frightening and suspicious. As a result, Morgan becomes an extreme case of the power women can have over men in general. Despite their relatively marginalized position in a world that values physical strength and a patriarchal royal line, women in this culture are able to exert a certain amount of power in private affairs - something that many men find threatening.

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Morgan le Fay Character Timeline in Le Morte d’Arthur

The timeline below shows where the character Morgan le Fay appears in Le Morte d’Arthur. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
...asks Merlin to send for his mother Igraine, and she arrives with her beautiful daughter, Morgan le Fay. (full context)
Book 2
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...wife Margawse comes with her four sons, as well as King Uriens and his wife Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s sister. Merlin through magic covers the tombs with golden images and a... (full context)
Book 4
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
The next day Uriens awakens next to his wife (Morgan le Fay) in Camelot, though they were two days away; Arthur awakens in a dark... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...the damsel from Arthur’s court. She denies it, though in reality she is one of Morgan le Fay’s damsels. Damas sends for Arthur, and agrees to free the other knights if... (full context)
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...death. He realizes that the ship’s damsels have betrayed them. A dwarf arrives sent from Morgan le Fay (Accolon’s lover), saying that she has sent Accolon Excalibur, Arthur’s sword, along with... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...Ontzlake to prepare for battle with a good knight. Sir Ontzlake is a little wounded. Morgan le Fay has made Accolon lodge with Ontzlake, so he volunteers to fight for him.... (full context)
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
Chapter 11 Accolon says he got it from Morgan le Fay to kill King Arthur, her brother, since she hates him and loves Accolon,... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...has bled so much that he dies within four days. Arthur sends Accolon’s body to Morgan le Fay, telling messengers that he sends it as a present. (full context)
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
Chapter 13 Morgan believes Arthur is dead, so she prepares to kill Uriens in his sleep. She tells... (full context)
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
Chapter 14 Later Morgan sees Accolon’s body, which is brought to a church, and though she feigns nonchalance she... (full context)
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
Arthur arms himself and Sir Ontzlake and they ride out in search of Morgan. Arthur catches sight of her and chases her, but she comes upon a lake and... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
Chapter 15 Morgan rides on away from Arthur, and encounters one knight about to lead another bound hand... (full context)
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
Arthur rides to Camelot, where everyone marvels at Morgan’s treachery. When Manassen returns and tells Arthur the story, he swears to be avenged on... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...falls down dead and burns to a crisp. The king is furious, and tells Uriens (Morgan’s wife) that he will have to expel their son Uwaine: he trusts Uriens, since Morgan... (full context)
Book 6
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...asleep under the apple tree, and begin to fight over who will win his love. Morgan le Fay, one of the queens, decides to enchant him to remain asleep and take... (full context)
Book 8
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...to her husband she can drink it, but if she is false it will spill. Morgan le Fay, knowing of the affair between Guenever and Launcelot, is sending the horn to... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
...Tristram, who says that his kindness in not fighting Lamorak was betrayed when Lamorak sent Morgan le Fay’s horn to Mark’s court. But Tristram proposes they lay aside their differences to... (full context)
Book 9
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Journeys and Quests Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...Launcelot, and has come to seek some knights to rescue him from 30 knights whom Morgan le Fay has ordained to lie in wait for him. Bors de Ganis, Bleoberis, Ector... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...glory by fighting against. They ride and encounter Gawaine, who knows the lady is of Morgan le Fay, and is leading Tristram to mischief. Gawaine warns him not to follow her,... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Journeys and Quests Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
Chapter 26 Gawaine and Tristram agree to ride to Morgan le Fay’s castle. When they arrive, Gawaine calls out for Morgan to send out her... (full context)
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...meanwhile goes to a castle for lodging, but the castle happens to also be hosting Morgan le Fay. In the morning she won’t let him leave until he tells her who... (full context)
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Chapter 42 Morgan’s lover Hemison decides to follow Tristram against Morgan’s will and kill him. They fight, and... (full context)
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Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...In the minutes before he dies, Hemison asks Tristram to have him sent back to Morgan’s castle, where she is greatly sorrowful. Tristram continues and stays with a knight, and they... (full context)
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
Chapter 44 There Tristram does many great exploits with Morgan’s shield. Arthur doesn’t understand what it means, but Guenever does and grows anxious. A damsel... (full context)
Book 10
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Journeys and Quests Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
Chapter 17 They pass a castle, where Dinadan says Morgan le Fay lives and keeps many knights of Arthur prisoner. Everyone who passes this way... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...Guenever and Launcelot’s affair, but Arthur thinks that this is only a rumor started by Morgan le Fay, so he puts it out of his mind. The letter also says that... (full context)
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...Mark sends a knight to follow Alisander, who meets and kills him. Mark writes to Morgan le Fay and the Queen of Northgalis, praying they’ll find a way to kill Alisander. (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Journeys and Quests Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...on the way to Camelot, stops by King Carados’ castle and strikes down many knights. Morgan le Fay hears of this and vows to find him. Meanwhile a damsel at Carados’... (full context)
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Chapter 37 Morgan heals Alisander’s wounds. The damsel asks Morgan to tell Alisander she wishes to marry him,... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...Alisander sadly tells the damsel that he’s imprisoned, and she tells him it’s so that Morgan can sleep with him: but if Alisander agrees to love her instead, she’ll deliver him.... (full context)
Book 11
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
Journeys and Quests Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...tell him there is a lady trapped in the tower being tortured with scalding water. Morgan le Fay and the Queen of Northgalis had trapped her, since she was the fairest... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Journeys and Quests Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...Corbin and Pelles treat him well. Bors tells them that Launcelot has been imprisoned by Morgan le Fay. Bors notes how alike the baby Galahad looks to Launcelot. A damsel brings... (full context)
Book 21
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...and puts on poor clothes. The narrator shares that the queens on the barge were Morgan le Fay, the Queen of Northgalis, the Queen of the Waste Lands, and Nimue. (full context)