For today’s post I would like to look at Morgan Le Fay’s influence in the characters in Game of Thrones (or as the book series is called A Song of Ice and Fire). The obvious Morgana connection here is to Melisandre of Asshai. She is the redheaded witch character. In many ways she is an exemplar of the negative views of Morgana in medieval culture. She does magic to help push the path forward for the people she would like on the throne. Using magic to try and manipulate the outcome of war and influence the leadership of a country is totally in line with what Morgana, as an evil enchantress, is depicted as doing in the legends!
Now that I have acknowledged that obvious connection I would like to move onto looking into how Cersei Lannister is also influenced by Morgana! Now many would argue that Cersei is only influenced by Guinevere, and while this is true given she is an adulterous Queen, she is also influenced heavily by the figure of Morgana. Suzannah Lipscomb has argued that Cersei can be seen as a negative version (or more negative version) of Elizabeth Woodville. I have already written that Elizabeth Woodville and Guinevere can be seen as connected, but she too is also connected to Morgana. It is obvious that those living in the medieval period would have grown up with the legends, and used them to influence how they behaved. George R.R. Martin has admitted to being influenced by the Wars of the Roses when he created his world.
In this way there is obviously influence from Arthurian legends (which I have covered in another post briefly) and of the actual medieval historical figures. That being said I have to look at both the connection between Morgana and Elizabeth Woodville, and of Morgana and Cersei. Morgana and Elizabeth both have faery lineage in many sources. This is true when we see Morgana as “le Fay” and a Queen of the magical land of Avalon! Elizabeth is connected to faery by her alleged descent from the faerie Melusine! Elizabeth is also largely accused of witchcraft by people that opposed her, and her mother was even put on trial (and acquitted) of witchcraft charges. If we assume that Martin based Cersei on the negative connotation of Elizabeth Woodville (as Suzannah Lipscomb has asserted) this would likewise mean that she has a Morgana connection.
Moreover, Morgana and Cersei both have a reputation of ensnaring knights with their bodies in order to get what they want. Morgana even had an entire land in the woods (La Valle Sans Retour) where she would capture knights that were unfaithful in love! To me, this further proves that she was a great inspiration, in her faery lover form, in his creation of Cersei.
I hope you have enjoyed this post on Morgana and her influence on Game of Thrones. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Cersei. I found the image on https://time.com/4818230/game-of-thrones-cersei-lannister-costume-evolution/.
- A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
- Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
- Game of Thrones (2011-2019)
- https://youtu.be/kLIDHhIRxIc. (This is Suzannah Lipscomb giving a lecture on Game of Thrones and the Wars of the Roses.)