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 woman 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 cannot 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 anyone 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 leaves him, so by killing it he thinks to own it forever. Agravaine is the boy most like his mother, in that he cannot 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 have to say is, "Anyway, now it’s 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 complement each other and together are stronger than they can ever be apart.
The Queen of Air and Darkness
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