Healing ArWen: Let Gwen finish her Journey
After the events of S04, a number of Arwennites were disappointed: although the show had been largely enjoyable, some things were amiss. There were a number of valid reasons for being so and letters were sent expressing improvements for the following season. However, nothing was more bothersome than the lack of the Magick reveals to Arthur: 1) Merlin’s sorcerer’s ability and 2) Gwen’s enchanted bracelet.
While unsettling, by leaving these threads untied and dangling; very imaginative story lines could result while Arthur and Merlin restore a land of tolerance for Magick. It might be difficult to see how those story lines could evolve into a tolerance for Magick given the 6-7 years Arthur had been deceived by Merlin seeing such a revelation as a betrayal and give the fact that enchantment nearly destroyed the life Arthur and Gwen would build together. There was a natural expectation that Arthur would only harden his heart further thereby delaying the formation of Albion. But, that need not be if Gwen would complete the Hero(ine’s) Journey.
If any feminist read this, this was taken from link
and this was taken from Psychology for Screenwriters by William Indick which was distilled from The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock using feminist anthropological interpretations of primitive societies including the works and theories of Margaret Meade. And for my own sanity, I’ll use Hero with a male pronoun (his, he) and Heroine with a female one (her, she).
The Murdock work in turn was a response to The Hero’s Journey of Joseph Campbell using the premise that all societies shared basic, fundamental notions called Archetypes which could be outlined in stages showing that across all cultures the same story was told through the mask of that culture making “universal truths” accessible to that society. However, where the Hero’s Journey involved obtaining the boon (the purpose of the quest, like the Cup of Life) using the masculine aspects of personality (Animus), the Heroine’s Journey involved using the feminine aspects of personality (Anima) and the realization that the boon of the Hero was often illusory because the actual purpose of the Myth was a reconciliation between the Animus and Anima for the reintegration by the Hero(ine) into society (Campbell’s Stage 5). Campbell’s Journey allowed other less specific methods because inherent in both his and Murdock’s work was the fundamental concept of all Mythic stories: they always told inn various forms a cycle of resurrection, regeneration, or restoration.
ALL RIGHT, GET ON WITH HEALING
It is important to remember that: 1) the Stages in either the Hero’s or Heroine’s Journey can occur either literally (concretely) or figuratively (abstractly); 2) the Hero could be either male (like Merlin/Arthur) or female (like Lara Croft) in this journey; and 3) the protagonist in the Heroine’s Journey could be a female (like Erin Brockavich) or male (like Daniel Chafee in A FEW GOOD MEN). Finally as Indick pointed out the Hero’s Journey was all about achieving legendary status after death while the Heroine's journey was about achieving psychological stability in life.
By way of review, the Heroine’s Journey existed in two forms. The earliest form involved stories in which a female protagonist (the Heroine) underwent the same stages as found in the Hero’s Journey much as a male protagonist would. These proto-feminist stories formed what I’ll refer to as the Heroine’s Quest A; however, reinterpretations of these female protagonist stories led to a more inclusive Heroine’s Quest B.
The Gwen’s Quest A: Proto-feminist Hero(ine)’s Journey
Stage 1: Departure: Gwen was called to adventure when she saw Merlin stand up to Arthur which attracted her to the young warlock. She tried to explain how things in Camelot were to Merlin though he cared for her as a friend he did not share her feelings (S02E04). Gwen was attracted to Lancelot who combined Merlin’s decency while rivaling Arthur as a knight (S02E05) but this love would be doomed (S02E04, S03E13). In time, she saw Arthur had more to him than the bully he appeared to be and fell in love with the young prince. (S01E10-13)
Stage 2: Initiation: Gwen cared for Arthur revealing her hopes for him as king and he developed feelings for her (S01E13, S02Eps02, 04, 10, 11). Given the disparity in their social status, she crossing into a new, more dangerous world because a union between a prince and commoner would not be permitted by the reigning King though she was the prince’s true love (S02Eps 10, 11). Although this love blossomed, eventually she realized that such a love could never be until Arthur became king thus gaining a more mature perspective in her life in Camelot. (S03E11)
Stage 3: The Road of Trials: Through the aid of Merlin, she endured tests of emotional strength and endurance (S03E11) and showed her resourcefulness in freeing Leon and aiding her prince (S03E13).
Stage 4: The Innermost Cave: Gwen faced a great trial: trying to help Arthur become his own man. To protect him, Lancelot died to keep his word to her (S04E02). Even worse, Arthur was under the growing influence of Agravaine and she would no longer be appropriate to be seen with her prince (S04E05). Even though this was reconciled, Agravaine still held greater sway with Arthur (S04E07). Although she impressed him (S04E08) and asked her to be his wife over the objections of Agravaine, she would have these things undone after her reappearance of Lancelot.
Stage 5: The Return and Reintegration with Society remains incomplete. By the end of S4, Gwen now sits on the throne as Queen and Arthur realized and reawakened his love for her, showed his capacity for forgiveness toward, and changed emotionally. An argument could be made that Gwen has completed a Hero’s Journey. However, this would miss a key point in Myth because there was no restoration of the characteristics that made their bond of love: trust.
While the writers could leave it here and ignore things, a more satisfying solution would be to heal Arwen by having Gwen complete Stage 5 through a redemptive story line in which the enchanted bracelet is revealed. However, this might have the effect of reinforcing Arthur’s belief in S4 that Magick was pure evil undermining the true goal: the resurrection of a land tolerant of Magick. While a limitless number of story line can be used to fix this, the simplest would be to follow the
A more specific way to deal with such illusory boons would be to recast the Journey by focusing upon the true objective in the series: the resurrection of Albion; this could be done by having Gwen aid Arthur and Merlin. And, the sequence of events would result in a synthesis of masculine and feminine principles in forming a land of tolerance for those with Magick.
The Gwen’s Quest B: A feminist Hero(ine)’s Journey
Stage 1: SEPARATION FROM THE FEMININE: Gwen rejected traditional values associated with the feminine by leaving behind her old life as a commoner and falling in love with a Prince to fulfill her destiny with Arthur symbolically renouncing her familial ties;
Stage 2: IDENTIFICATION WITH THE MASCULINE & GATHERING OF ALLIES: Gwen was the blacksmith's daughter and knew more about armory than Merlin (S01E01-12), challenged Arthur chiding him about his arrogance towards others (S01E09), reminding him at one point that words are meaningless without the actions to back them up (S02E03), found a Mentor (the wise old man, Gaius) and a guide (Merlin) to help her through the male dominated world of Camelot, initiating her into a new world of danger and challenges (a commoner securing the love of the Prince);
Stage 3: ROAD OF TRIALS, MEETING OGRES & DRAGONS & FALSE KNIGHTS: On her Journey, Gwen faced several obstacles. The Ogre is a brute, a tyrant who wishes to preserve the status quo of his own existence (I hope I don't have to explain that this is UTHER from S01-03 and Morgana in S04); the Dragon is the conflicting goals of the quest (winning Arthur's heart) versus the traditional values that might oppose that goal (like Arthur's love and proposed marriage to others in the same rank and file like Viviane in S02E10 and Elena in S03E06; or those invoking the traditions of the past like Agravaine in S04E05 and S04E09); and the FALSE KNIGHT who promises security and safety in exchange for giving up the quest (Morgana S03Eps12-13 and Lancelot in S04E09);
Stage 4: THE ILLUSORY BOON: By the end of Season 4, Gwen and Arthur are married, she sits upon the throne of Camelot beside Arthur, and seems to have accomplished her quest in FINDING THE BOON OF SUCCESS.
These stages more or less dovetail nicely with Campbell's model of the Hero’s Journey. But here, Murdock's work noted this boon could be an illusory goal concealing the true quest: aiding Arthur and Merlin in the restoration of Albion where Magic is again accepted.
As Campbell pointed out, the true purpose of the Hero’s reintegration with society by using the boon to improve his people was to affirm the Mythic concept of resurrection. However Campbell left this open to the storyteller, allowing the possibility for limitless story lines for Stage 5. Murdock noted that obtaining the boon did not save the world; instead, only by bringing the masculine and feminine complements together as a synthesis of both would resurrection occur.
To accomplish this, Campbell’s Stage 5 was expanded into six additional stages. So, even if Gwen and Arthur could be happy, out in the open with their affairs of the heart, as seen in S03E13 to S04E09 and S04E13, there was still much to do before Albion could be restored (the true goal).
To do that Arthur would have to soften his stance on Magick. This would be no easy task because to paraphrase Merlin, Arthur would have to show a new softer side; which he did in his transition from The Chivalric Hero to a Romantic Hero.
From S01-03, these characteristics described Arthur:
1) Contests and battle were ongoing tests of manhood and loyalty to the liege lord (Uther).
2) He was handsome, strong, courageous, skilled and brave
3) He was perceived in public to embody the ideals of a code, even if he might not in private: honor, duty, morality, and charity.
4) He demonstrated obedience to hierarchy, followed elaborate rules of chivalry, dress, courtesy, and codes of conduct.
5) He waged war on behalf of his liege lord’s principles.
6) Birth, class and station were important
7) Because he was of royal birth or a distinguished family or he had himself gained distinction
8) Perception was more important than reality (Nearly every episode of S01 because despite all that Arthur said, despite all the pomp and circumstance, his best friend was still Merlin but especially S01E05 Arthur defending the nobility of a commoner like Lancelot in private to Uther; S01E12, Arthur explaining to Morgana that he could not be seen publicly disobeying his father.)
However, at the end of S04, Arthur’s characteristics could be described by many if not all of these:
1) Birth and class were unimportant because everyone could transcend society so that a commoner could be more noble than the high-born
2) He fought his own inner demons, becoming moody and introspective, to become “my own man” winning that battle through the “courage to be me”.
3) His moral code became flexible because heroes make their own rules.
4) Passions were beyond the control of the individual
5) Self knowledge was valued more than physical strength or endurance while emotional courage was valued more (acknowledging fear while “doing what must be done in spite of fear”, and, at times against all odds of success.)
6) The hero was moody, isolated, and introspective; often times appearing arrogant to hide his own insecurities.
7) Loyalty was to a particular project and to a community of like-minded others
And so, like Merlin, Arthur became a Romantic Hero. With that done, Arthur was primed for the resurrection of Magick in the land which would be easier accomplished IF Gwen completed her Heroine’s Journey.
ENOUGH ARTHUR, BRING ON ARWEN
During the entire series run from S01E01 until S04E13, Gwen like Merlin and Arthur has been on the Hero(ine)’s Jouirney. Because her journey can include theirs, it makes more sense to have Gwen complete her series long quest while embarking on a shorter Heroine’s Journey to restore TRUST for Arthur, Camelot, and herself instead of merely finding the enchanted bracelet.
Gwen would undergo:
Stage 5: AWAKENING TO FEELINGS OF SPIRITUAL ARIDITY: DEATH. Gwen would face the temptation that will lead to physical, emotional, or spiritual death. Here she would encounter a masculine force (like Arthur) that wants her to give everything of herself to him. But, she must be who she is and not someone who will agree to everything he says. Yet, she must be willing to acknowledge she has weaknesses instead of denying that fact to herself.
Stage 6: INITIATION & DESCENT TO THE GODDESS. She re-encounters the feminine and accepts those aspects she had previously rejected to heal the wounds of her initial separation. This may be external in that she may give herself back to her family in some way or internal in that she becomes more independent. Either of which allows her to express maternal love again.
Stage 7: URGENT YEARNING TO RECONNECT WITH THE FEMININE. The Heroine realizes she has lost part of her identity in her quest to succeed in the Male domain, her integration of the Masculine into her personality. Now, she needs to go back and reconnect with the Anima (the feminine aspect of her personality: the female body, feeling, passion and emotion.) This reintegration of the feminine can also mean the integration of the 'Wild Woman' archetype - impulsive, strong, passionate and comfortable with her sexuality. She is not above using seduction (or perhaps, more neutrally, charm) to get what she wants.
Stage 8: HEALING THE MOTHER/DAUGHTER SPLIT. A 'Grandmother Spider', a benign understanding woman who has been both daughter and mother who can heal the final split with the Mother Goddess. This is the encounter and acceptance of ancestral feminine wisdom.
Stage 9: HEALING THE WOUNDED MASCULINE/FINDING THE HEART OF THE INNER MAN. The Heroine encounters the masculine in an evolved form who will encourage her to keep her new found qualities. The Heroine is now free to find the man who will be her equal. While she has been searching for and integrating masculine qualities, this new man will typically be endowed with feminine qualities (tolerant, nurturing, sensitive) while himself being a well-integrated man. And, he encourages her to keep her masculine traits (self-confident, rational, independent)
Stage 10: INTEGRATION OF MASCULINE & FEMININE: The Master of Two Worlds, she has found success in the outer Masculine world as well as in her personal world. She has become the synthesis of Male and Female personality types and stronger than either alone as a complete being who exists beyond duality - a singular being who embraces all within a circle of understanding.
These stages could fit nicely in either a single episode of Merlin or multiple episodes with one or two stages being a central theme. In other words, directly or indirectly, there would be a Gwen Quest.
An outline for one quest (or two, if you want Lancelot redeemed as well) Stages are Campbell’s while Mudock’s Stages are denoted by M:
Stage 1: Departure: Gwen is called to adventure, although she and Arthur are reluctant for her to accept. Gwen does and at her terms not his.
M5: AWAKENING TO FEELINGS OF SPIRITUAL ARIDITY: DEATH.
Stage 2: Initiation: Gwen crosses a threshold into a new, more dangerous world, gaining a more mature perspective. Motivated by her pure love for Arthur, she accepts and in doing so, she adopts aspects of the life she once knew. And finds fulfillment and purpose.
M6: INITIATION & DESCENT TO THE GODDESS.
M7: URGENT YEARNING TO RECONNECT WITH THE FEMININE.
Stage 3: The Road of Trials: Gwen with Merlin’s aid endures tests of strength, resourcefulness, and endurance as she encounters the negative aspects of the Triple Goddess (these can be like the Ogre, the Dragon, and the False Knight). And to conquer those, Gwen must adopt the positive features of the Triple Goddess.
M7: URGENT YEARNING TO RECONNECT WITH THE FEMININE
Stage 4: The Innermost Cave: Gwen faces a great trial facing the Goddess. In this confrontation, Gwen harness both the positive and negative aspects of the Goddess and triumphs thereby changing physically, emotionally, or spiritually as she accepts and integrates the old wisdom.
M8: HEALING THE MOTHER/DAUGHTER SPLIT.
Stage 5: Return and Reintegration with Society: Gwen uses this new wisdom to help restore the land of Albion
M9: HEALING THE WOUNDED MASCULINE (Regaining Trust)
by FINDING THE HEART OF THE INNER MAN (Reaffirming Love)
M10: INTEGRATION OF MASCULINE & FEMININE:
Arthur becomes more nurturing and tolerant
Gwen becomes more confident and out-spoken
The outline provides the basis for any number of story lines. However, before Gwen can undertake that Quest, we must know what sort of Hero(ine) she would be and become. This might be cause for concern. As the events of S4 unfolded, both Arthur and Merlin took the path of an Anti-Hero and were transitioned by it into Romantic Heroes which some people can’t accept... Merlin?
WELL, IF THAT'LL DO IT GIVE ME SPECIFIC EXAMPLES