King Arthur Mordred's Villains

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Villains are an important asset to stories modern and old: Poseidon in The Odyssey, Iago in Othello, Moriarty in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and Loki in The Avengers. These all are villains that play an important role in their respective plots. In the widely acknowledged legends of King Arthur, there are several apparent villains throughout the stories. The most well-known villain is the killer of King Arthur, Sir Mordred. According to Daniel Haybron’s article, “Evil Characters”, villains can develop from one of three traits: deficiencies of conscience, malice, or malevolence. Haybron describes deficiencies of conscience as lacking two separate components: a commitment to righteousness and the ability to have appropriate reactions to …show more content…
After a battle with King Lot, Merlin foreshadows Mordred’s villainy: he tells Arthur of the future battle of Salisbury, in which Arthur will fight against Mordred. Merlin also advises him to gather all babies born on May day, put them on a ship, and send them out to sea so that Mordred will die and Arthur’s kingdom will be saved. Unfortunately for Arthur, Mordred escapes the boat and survives, and then he grows up alone. Then Mordred, at the age of fourteen, makes his way back to Arthur’s court. Down the line, Mordred, with his brothers Gawain, Gaheris, and Agravaine, participates in ambushing and stabbing Sir Lamorak. This is the first time in the story that Mordred lives up to Merlin’s prophecies. The second time Mordred’s villainy is revealed is when he helps Agravaine expose Lancelot and Guinevere's relationship. Mordred does this completely out of spite (Shmoop Editorial Team). The third instance is when he forges letters stating that Arthur was slain in his battle with Lancelot, takes over the throne, and tries to marry Guinevere. Finally, in a battle with Arthur and his men, Mordred kills Arthur. These three examples of Mordred’s villainy prove that it derived from malice. Mordred’s maliciousness towards many, if not all, of the people he hurts comes from his unfavorable childhood. Because of this, Mordred wishes misfortune on others who have had a better, more advantageous life than him, such as …show more content…
In Le Morte Darthur, Mordred’s motives are not apparent, but they may be that he wanted to make those who had it better than him experience misery. In this case, those people are Arthur and Lancelot. Also Mordred knew that if Arthur learned of Lancelot and Guinevere’s affair, it would put a rift in the whole court. While Agravaine is telling the other knights that he is going to inform Arthur of Lancelot and Guinevere’s relationship, Gawain warns that “... there arise war and wrack betwixt Sir Lancelot and us, wit you well, brother, there will many knights and great lords hold with Sir Lancelot” (Malory 468). Since Mordred knows that a separation will occur in the court, he has more motivation to expose Lancelot. Mordred’s maliciousness also explains his revengeful trait of wanting to destroy Arthur and his kingdom. Mordred feels he needs to seek revenge on Arthur because he knows that Arthur tried to kill him on the ship. In destroying Arthur’s kingdom as well, he also brings misery onto knights that he loathes, such as Lancelot. All of Mordred’s villainous activities occurred because he was getting his revenge on Arthur and his

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