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Ithica writes...

A little while ago, I asked you why you thought Gawain filled the bastard role. You answered "It's his behaviour. His ability to be the hero or the villain depending on the situation. His betrayal of family. His defense of family. He's so torn. He's such a bastard."

Now that I think about it, you're assessment of his hero/villain tendencies is rather accurate. But the only instance of that I can think of is at the end, near Logres's fall, when Launcelot slew Agravaine, Gaheris, and Gareth. Is that what you're assessing from? Because then, I understand your thoughts. He's forgives Launcelot for the death of Agravaine because A deserved it; he wants to kill L for the deaths of Gaheris and Gareth because they didn't deserve it, which is understandable but wrong. In the first case he acts nobly and in the second case he acts vindictively and vengefully. So there I see your reasoning.

But is that the only instance from which you drew your conclusion? Because that's the only point in time I can think of that marks Gawain as a bastard. Otherwise, he seems to me the epitome of courty knighthood, and my favorite of Lot and Morgawse's children. Do you have any other instances from which you draw your bastard conclusion?

Also, you indicated that his "betrayal of family" was a factor. If you'll pardon my ignorance, do you mean when he wasn't angry over the death of his brother Agravaine?

Thank you---

Greg responds...

Arthur's family too, by the way. And he let's his thirst for vengeance push Arthur into an untenable situation.

Mordred was also family. Draw your own conclusions.

Gaheris and Gareth agree to act as Guenivere's unarmed "guard" at her execution. Gawain refuses to participate at all. He lets them go out without swords.

But Gawain was always a bit of a work-in-progress. Particularly when he was young. His experience with Lady Ragnall, whom I view as Percival's mother, is a case in point. He's a bastard who makes good in that story. And he still winds up alone.

I may be reading between the lines, more than a little, but I often see archetypes floating through various pantheons. Theseus is the perfect bastard in Greek Mythology. But when you get to Arthurian times, despite the surface similarities, Arthur just doesn't totally fit the bill for me. And though there are a TON of other potential candidates, including (depending on your interpretation) Merlin, Percival, Mordred, Galahad, etc., I still feel like this time out "THE BASTARD" decided that he wanted a shot at having a family. He bypassed the obvious choices and incarnated as Gawain. And nothing really changed for him.

Just how I see it.

Response recorded on December 21, 2000