Queen of Air and Darkness-Character Analysis


The Queen of Air and Darkness

In the Queen of Air and Darkness Morgause raises four boys. She is not a good
mother, and she does not give her boys a sense of right and wrong. She often ignores
them for days at a time and beats them when they displease her. She acts as if they were
pets rather than human beings, to be loved or not at her convenience . But despite this
common maltreatment, the boys turn out very differently.
Gawaine is the oldest of the boys and in many ways the most normal. He becomes
a knight in Arthur’s court, fighting for him loyally. The way in which he is affected by his
upbringing is his rages. When provoked Gawaine goes into a berserk rage in which he
does things he would normally never do. When Gawaine and Agravaine are arguing over
whether or not to write a letter to their father about the knights, Agravaine refuses to say he
is wrong, so Gawaine goes berserk and attacks him. He does not simply beat him, but
chokes him and slams his head against the floor until Gareth pulls him off. If Gareth had
not been there, Gawaine very well might have killed his younger brother. Gawaine even
kills a women when worked up to a rage. These rages are a product of the unhealthy
childhood he endured.
The next child, Agravaine, is probably the least well adjusted of the four. He tends
to be sadistic and self-centered. The children were told the tale of the King of Ireland by
St. Toirdealbhach; the tale where the king gets a head wound and can not be excited, but
then he dies while trying to defend his savior. Agravaine does not see any point in putting
one’s self in danger to protect any one else. He says “It was silly, it did no good,” because
he does not understand the principal behind the story. He does not understand that there
are things other than yourself worth dying for. Agravaine’s sadism is evidenced in the
Unicorn episode. After the boys agree to capture and not kill the unicorn, Agravaine runs
up behind it and begins stabbing it repeatedly. He could not stand that the Unicorn ever
leave him, so by killing it he thinks to own it forever. Agravaine is the boy most like his
mother, in that he can not see past his own interests.
The next child Gaheris, seems to have little personality. He is described as “a stolid
child.” More often than not he seems to be just along for the ride. He does not take part
in the arguments. He generally just sits back and watches. When Gawaine goes into a rage
and attacks Agravaine, he does not intercede on either boy’s behalf. The only thing he
does in the fight is to take the dirk which had been flung from Agravaine’s hand and
ensure that it was not recovered. He seems afraid of action. He prefers to take as passive
a role possible in confrontations. When Agravaine begins killing the unicorn, Gaheris is the
last to come out of hiding. When Gareth starts moaning over it being dead, all Gaheris has
to say is, “Anyway, now its dead.” Unlike Gawaine, Gareth is reclusive and hesitant to act.
The final child, Gareth, is by far the kindest. He balances out Agravaine’s cruelty
with his good will. When Agravaine is being beat by Gawaine, Gareth saves his life by
pulling Gawaine off him, despite the fact that Gawaine was much larger than him. When
Agravaine kills the Unicorn, Gareth tries to stop him, and he then cries over the unicorn’s
death. Gareth seems to have the disposition of a monk. He believes that the King of
Ireland was correct to attempt to save his savior despite his condition. Gareth puts the
welfare of other people before his own.
The four boys, all brought up in the same manner, have different and balancing
features. Gawaine is outgoing and quick to act, but he is balanced by Gaheris who is
reclusive and slow to action. Agravaine is sadistic and selfish, but he is balanced by Gareth
who is kind and generous. They compliment each other and together are stronger than
they can ever be apart.

Category: Mythology