Healing ArWen. 2
Before beginning the Quest, we (the viewers) must identify the problems Gwen must solve to aid Arthur. And before that we must learn the answer to these questions:
1) What is the problem Gwen must solve?
2) What kind of Hero is Gwen?
3) Where must the Quest occur?
4) Why must Gwen undergo Quest?
5) How does the Quest solve her problem?
GWEN’S PROBLEM: ARTHUR, UTHER AND CHIVALRIC HEROES
Now that Gwen and Arthur are married, the Hero(ine)’s Archetype demands a very simple responsibility: she gains her mate’s glories as much as his burdens. The main burden that Arthur is unaware is Merlin because both of whom will restore Magic to the land and create Albion. With her marriage to Arthur, this burden now falls upon Gwen the Hero(ine): her story is now as much a part of the resurrection of Albion as his. So, Gwen must aid Arthur and Merlin in the Quest to form Albion.
For Merlin and Arthur to form Albion--- a united land--- Arthur must gain the trust of the other kingdoms. But, this is no easy task because of the legacy of Uther. In past Series, we knew the other kings coveted the power and wealth of Camelot. We were given to believe that this was due to greed because in S1, Uther was a just and fair king except when it came to Magic where the laws of Camelot demanded the formality of a trial before death (S01E01 and S01E12) to assure peace and prosperity in his land (S02E10). However between Season 1 and 2, we saw Uther’s brand of justice and fairness was a bit extreme. But, even Morgana a staunch dissident of Uther’s regime admitted there were vast differences between what a king should do and what he MUST do (S03E12-13). By Season 4, there was the strong inference that Uther’s dealings with others including the other kingdoms and servants might not have been as noble and good as the ideal ruler.
As we can see since S01, Uther and the Arthur from S1-3 could accurately be describe as following the ideal of the Hero Knight. There was little doubt that they:
1) Were of noble birth and rank
2) Battled and warred as an ongoing test of manhood and loyalty to the liege lord and his principles.
3) Had or appeared to have a good moral character such as refraining from unlawful sexual relations (chaste) and fealty to the laws and codes of Camelot
4) Demonstrated obedience to the customs, traditions, and hierarchy of the liege lord following elaborate codes of conduct and rules of chivalry, dress and courtesy to those in the same or higher rank and file.
In short, Uther and Arthur were Chivalric Heroes. Honor and custom were important to them. Once honor was broken it had to be restored or the appearance of its resoration had to occur. Like the hero of classical times, such sweeping changes were bold and brave conquerors who made worlds bow before them. However, such heroes with their single-minded focus and unwavering desire to preserve the status quo were unlikely candidates to evoke the emotional and spiritual changes to affect the change needed to restore Albion through a peaceful transformation.
Unless Arthur can conquer and unite the 5 kingdoms through military might which seems unlikely, Arthur must change and his behavior must shift from warrior to diplomat. To do this Arthur must atone for the SINS OF HIS FATHER because the inference in S4 was that Uther’s dealings with them might not have been as good and honorable as a Gorlois and a union of the 5 kingdoms will not occur until Arthur does.
GWEN’S SLOUTION: TRANSFORMING ARTHUR
Through Merlin’s and Gwen’s help, Arthur must transform from a Knight like Uther to a more empathic hero. As Merlin said by “showing this new emotional, sensitive side” (S04E10) in private to those he trusts while publicly he shows this through his actions of good works as he breaks from the past while honoring it.
Throughout Season 4, Arthur sought for survival first his Father’s (S04E01-03) and then his own. In the very first episode, Arthur plunged into the dark abyss of evil to save the kingdom willingly offering his life to heal the sundered veil ending the unleashed evil (S04E01-02). However, his life was not forfeit because Lancelot sacrificed his own giving his life meaning and value. By creating this pool of light in a sea of darkness, Arthur changed because his knight’s code became meaningless in light of the sacrifice of the noblest and bravest of the knights. From (S04E03 until S04E13), there’s the slow but steady evolution of this new personalized Knight’s Code. Arthur became less certain of his abilities as king (S04E03), less decisive losing himself to growing uncertainty, losing his close knit group of friends (his intimate community) but living only for a smaller select few that he could trust because of the bonds of kinship (S04E03-12). Yet, during this same time, Arthur became more introspective until he realized that he must become his own man and had to break from the past; first in affairs of the heart (S04E05-S04E09) and then affairs of state (S04E10-12) finally emerging from this as indeed his “own man”.
By the end of Season 4 (S04E13), a different Arthur emerged. For this Arthur discovered that true courage meant the courage to be himself and live and abide by his own code of morals. By gaining this self-knowledge, he showed that it was more important to him than his skill as a warrior. In so doing, he realized that passions (like love) where beyond the control of social conventions or tradition and that things like birth and class were less important because each individual had value and each could transcend the limits imposed by society (his own marriage to his Queen, Gwen). And, his loyalty was to Camelot and those who protected the kingdom.
That is, Arthur had adopted the characteristics of the Romantic Hero. So, Gwen like Merlin must now see to it that Arthur completes and makes permanent his transformation. Gwen can do this by helping Arthur atone for the Sins of his Father.
GWEN’S SOLUTION: TRANSFORMING MERLIN
Though Merlin started as a Romantic Hero and became more of one during his sojourn of the Anti-Hero, he was also these types: an Innocent, an Orphan, a Caregiver, a Magician, a Sage, and a Revolutionary (link
). He must make the latter aspects of his personality known to Arthur. His transformation of Arthur from Hero/Knight to Romantic Hero and from Prince to Ruler is nearly complete but Merlin’s own transformation in the eyes of must now be completed and Gwen can help him do this as she redeems her own sins.
UTHER’S SINS: BETRAYAL
While it might be too late for Uther, Arthur has a chance to regain his honor by becoming a different hero. To a large extent, he did this by making amends in S4 to the Druids (S04E10) and showing his true nobility whose word was backed by actions (S04E13) in becoming a more introspective and moody man in separating himself from Uther but honoring the old traditions and customs in becoming “my own man.” By the end of S4, Arthur had grown into a Romantic Hero who was no longer concerned about birth or station whose loyalty was to a core group of like-minded people (Merlin, Gwen, and KORT).
THE GORLOIS AFFAIR: A KING BETRAYS HIS FRIEND
Gorlois was Uther’s best friend: “for he was as fearless in questioning my judgement as he was in defending my kingdom.” (S01E12) But, Uther had an affair with Vivienne, the wife of Gorlois and had a child, Morgana. Led to believe by his wife that the child was his own, Gorlois raised her. Some time later, Uther sent Gorlois into battle and promised him reinforcements but Uther failed to keep that promise. None the less, Gorlois acted as a good and honorable man and died but extracted a promise from Uther to protect and raise the child, Morgana. Uther took her as his ward knowing she was actually his daughter and not the child of Gorlois. (S01E12, S02E11). Some of the kingdoms like Caerleon know and remember this all too well (S04E05).
THE YGRAINE INCIDENT: A KING BETRAYS HIS QUEEN
Uther betrayed his wife Ygraine (S02E08). Ygraine was unable to bear Uther an heir. He welcomed the sorceress Nimueh to his kingdom, welcomed her as a friend, and asked her to help her barren wife produce a son and heir (S01E08). Gaius warned Uther against such action but he was desperate for an heir. Nimueh agreed to use magic to preserve the Pendragon Dynasty and knew that by using magic to create a life, another life had to be taken to maintain the balance of the world, but she had not foreseen that it would be Ygraine's life or the terrible retribution Uther would take (S01E09).
Ygraine died in childbirth and because of the loss of his beloved wife, a grief-stricken Uther turned on Nimueh, accusing her of treason and banishing her from Camelot (S02E8).
THE GREAT PURGE INCIDENT: A KING BETRAYS HIS PEOPLE
During the Great Purge, Uther had those with magic including innocent women and children drowned (S03E02). Some like Morgause, having inherited her mother’s magical powers, was sentenced to death by Uther but had been smuggled out of Camelot. (Gaius gave her to the high priestesses of the Old Religion who raised her (S02E08, S04E01).
GWEN’S SINS: UTHER”S BETRAYAL TO A LESSER DEGREE
Like Uther, Gwen committed acts of betrayal. But hers were far less drastic. Gwen fell in love with Arthur while she nursed him back to health. She revealed that she saw the inner man of Arthur Pendragon who would usher a new era of justice and fairness, one in which the people would be proud to call a sovereign. (S01E13) If Arthur hadn’t fallen in love with her then, he did by S02E02 when he admitted to Gwen she was someone he cared about. Though other women were more lovely and of royal bearing, Gwen won Arthur because she had a good heart, was honest, and straight forward (S01E01 and E13, S04E09). But, during S4, she was tarnished betraying her king, her friend and her love.
Gwen betrayed Uther in (S04E01-02) when she revealed to Gaius that she did not care for Uther but did so only for Arthur. Yet, she let others including Arthur believe otherwise until it was too late (So4E03). While this did not seem like much, it did take away from her role as a Caregiver and Savior who Arthur could unconditionally trust and love. Then, Gwen betrayed Merlin (S04E05). Unlike prior quests (The Poisoned Chalice, the Eye of the Phoenix), Gwen dissuaded Arthur from searching for Merlin because of a selfish reason. In prior seasons, Gwen only acted as such for selfless reasons and understood completely the reason Arthur had to go on his quest despite the danger to himself. And, her actions were in stark contrast to Merlin’s in the Once and Future Queen.
However none of these alone or together would be enough to crush the love between Arthur and Gwen until her betrayal of Arthur (S04E09) due to her hidden desire for Lancelot. If we recall the enchantment of the bracelet did not create feelings of love in Gwen for Lancelot, the enchantment brought those feelings to the surface. Feelings that she likely still harbored despite her denial because if she did not then she would have informed Arthur about the present Lancelot had given her. A present that she, the promised of another man, should not have accepted without the consent and knowledge of her betroth in medieval times (and until recently most of the 20th Centurry). Had she done so then Arthur (well, Gaius or Merlin would have connected Lancelot, Morgana, enchanted bracelet and) would have avoided Gwen’s punishment, the wedding would occur, and a coronation would take place. Though, this might further harden Arthur’s and Gwen’s heart against magic and reinforce the notion that “magic is pure evil.”
GWEN: THE CARETAKER, THE SAVIOR
When we first met Gwen in S01E01, she saw a weak looking boy stand up to a bully. When he was put in stocks, she sought to help him and as the series progressed, she sough to help others with her compassion and her generosity. She was kind hearted willingly putting herself in harm's way to help Merlin (The Moment of Truth) and scolded Arthur for his snobbery and selfishness as seen in the Witchfinder. But, mostly she seemed uncomfortable when she herself took on airs (the Poisoned Chalice). Gwen was a Caretaker.
Similarly, Gwen was the Savior. In S01E04 and S01E13, we saw her goal was to rescue others from discomfort and distress as she cared for an injured Merlin and then Arthur. And, with her encounters with Lancelot in S01-03, we saw that she gave him hope, rejuvenating his beliefs and restoring his ideals providing his spirit and emotion salvation.
In any event by S04, Gwen was no longer the Caretaker, the Savior whose goal was to rescue others from discomfort and distress by providing aid and relief. Her good heart had been tarnished and that stained must be cleansed. And, she needed for her own forgiveness to find succor and salvation.
THE TASK AHEAD:
Gwen’s task is now the same task as Arthur’s. This sets up any number of story lines where Gwen will gain knowledge and wisdom, strength and conviction motivated by her love for Arthur to earn the trust of the 5 kingdoms and form Albion. And, in so doing finding it in herself to forgive those who wronged her (like Uther) or whom she has wronged (like Merlin) as she learns to forgive herself.
Gwen can do this by
1) restoring Uther (his reputation, his status, and/or his life) by gaining or granting him forgiveness, understanding, in an act of redemption
2) elevating Merlin in Arthur’s eyes and the KORT and showing tolerance to those who practice Magic by showing Arthur that not all who use magic are evil
3) demonstrating her unconditioned loyalty to Arthur through her act of love
Gwen can do these by aiding those who come to Arthur for help because Arthur owed and promised them that help. Among those are the Druids, Queen Annis, and the various treaties with Kings of the 5 kingdoms