For today’s post I would like to take a look at the character of Emma Swan in Once Upon A Time and how she can be interpreted as a version of Morgan Le Fay. This is something that has resonated with me since I first saw the fifth season of the television show. Other famous Arthurian figures appeared as characters throughout the series. Lancelot appeared as early as season two, making it obvious that viewers would eventually see Camelot. One glaring exception to who was featured, was Morgan Le Fay.
This is an odd figure not to feature in a television show that is so centered on magical practitioners. That is why it resonated with me that this was done on purpose. Morgana was not featured because she was already there in the guise of Emma Swan. In particular, the darker aspects of Morgana can be seen through Emma’s transformation into the new Dark One. Emma becomes a character they refer to as the Dark Swan, and to me this just screamed Morgana Le Fay!
As she grapples with her transformation from light magic practitioner to becoming the Dark One, she had to try to block the darkness. Later when she realized blocking it out was not going to happen, she decided to try and use dark magic for a good cause. This would not work out well, as is not surprising given that she was not only a dark witch, but had the energy of the original dark magic within her. The power of being the Dark One was something that was tantalizing and once used, even for good, would push Emma too far. She would become the true Dark One! She even turned the love of her life into another Dark One in order to prevent his death!
All of these events feel like a mirror to how Morgan Le Fay would have felt as she was routinely presented as a villain. She did not perform magic for her own gain alone, especially in the beginning, and she had the misfortune to live in a place where those around her did not understand her power! In this her and Emma are again similar. Emma’s parents and loved ones feared the extra power of her being the Dark One, and therefore could not accept her trying to control the magic, they wanted her to rid herself of it. The dark descent of Emma into the Dark Swan seems to mirror Morgana’s dark descent from benevolent Lady of Avalon to Arthurian antagonist!
In all both of these ladies had power that was vast, and often misunderstood. They tried to overcome pain and heartache with a lot of magical means. But in the end they only caused more pain, but learned from their mistakes! I hope you have enjoyed this rather brief look at Emma Swan as an aspect of Morgana Le Fay. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the page is Emma Swan. I found the image on https://www.deviantart.com/isabeldrumond/art/Dark-Emma-Swan-Once-Upon-a-Time-Season-5-533217658.
- Vita Merlini by Geoffrey of Monmouth
- Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes
- Le Morte D’Athur by Sir Thomas Malory
- Once Upon A Time (2011-2018)