Merlisten: What’s your personal fandom history? (How/when did you get into the show/the fandom of “Merlin”)
Ella_Rose88: I discovered Merlin first when I saw a TV promo late 2008/early 2009, it intrigued me (my dad even commented that it would be a show I would be into *laughs*) so I looked it up. I read some reviews, watched some clips and tried to stream it on YouTube but around this time we had dial-up internet so it was ridiculously slow. This was annoying because the whole show had aired in the UK and I was dying to watch it. While waiting for the show to air and during the time I managed to watch the first series, I managed to find the Arwen Community Camelot Love on Live Journal and after a few months of lurking there, I joined and thus I entered the fandom world. I devoured so much Arwen fanfic and it was the actually first time I read fanfiction too, so it was a memorable time for me.
M: How/when did you start shipping it?
ER88: When I first heard about the show and how they had set up Arthur as the Prince and Gwen as a servant, I was really intrigued to see how they would develop Arwen. I’ve watched some other Arthurian Legend films, and I admit I was never a fan of the whole Love Triangle and honestly I shipped Guinevere with Lancelot in some of them (which I feel awful admitting to and I try to forget that I did). However, when I was looking at some YouTube clips of Arwen in series 1 (while waiting to watch it on TV), I immediately fell in love with them. I felt their chemistry and the huge potential despite them not actually sharing much screen time together in series 1. Also, I am a massive fan of class difference romance (royalty/servant) so that really appealed to me.
M: What do you dislike about the ship?
ER88: There isn’t anything I dislike about Arwen, other than the fact that the show didn’t allow them to kiss in series 5. I wasn’t the only one frustrated by that. It was really annoying that we never got to see them like that, after the amazing kisses we got in series 2,3 and 4. So that was really disappointing.
That being said, Arthur banishing Gwen in series 4 was disappointing, seeing as the audience knew that Gwen was enchanted. I mean I get that Arthur was angry and felt really betrayed, and could have had her executed, but to banish her from the only home she has known was really harsh. Also, Merlin could have told Arthur his suspicions that Lancelot was a shade, because then they may have realized what might have happened with Gwen.
M: What do you like about the ship?
ER88: There is so much that I love about Arwen, that its hard to put it into words, but I will try. The first thing I love about them is that at the beginning Gwen isn’t really interested in Arthur at all because she thinks he’s basically – as Merlin would say – a prat. Then, slowly and through Merlin coming to Camelot, she sees a different side to him. And he becomes a beacon of hope for her after his father has her father murdered. The second thing I love is how Gwen isn’t afraid to tell Arthur the truth, and instead of reacting like he does when others do the same, he accepts it. And that is a really great thing because it shows that he truly values and respects what Gwen says. Thirdly, I just love the chemistry between the two of them, and how due to their stations its forbidden. So it was great to watch how they would overcome the barriers to get together (because we know that they get married). Basically I love everything about them, their interactions, disagreements, hugs, kisses – everything!
M: Do you notice any big differences between how the pairing is portrayed in canon, and how they’re portrayed in fandom?
ER88: In terms of the differences of how the pairing is portrayed in canon and in the fandom, the massive difference is the amount of focus on the pairing and on Gwen. In the show Arwen (especially in series 1) and Gwen (in early series) are not shown much together, but in fanfiction or fan vids etc, there is more of an emphasis on them. When it comes to characterization, I have found that writers build on how Gwen and Arthur are in the show, but delve much deeper into their relationship and psyches. Though, in Canon AU or Modern AU stories you can find situations where Arthur and Gwen may be a little OOC, but in my experience that is rarely the case.
M: What are popular tropes or plot devices used in Arwen fanworks?
ER88: God, this is hard for me to say! I feel that for a lot of writers (and artists) they really build upon the popular trope that occurs on the show and that is the forbidden romance. So there was a lot of stories where writers explored how Arwen would develop their relationship (including sneaking around) and all the barriers having a forbidden relationship involves. There was quite a bit of smut as well, considering Merlin was a family show, which allowed writers to explore the sexual side of Arwen’s relationship.
M: What popular headcanons exist for Arthur and Gwen as individual characters, and Arwen as a ship?
ER88: There was obviously the knowledge and headcanon that in the future Gwen and Arthur would be married (Yay!). We saw Merlin as the President of their fanclub, and there were some stories written where Merlin was like a matchmaker in helping Arwen get together (which were lovely). For me personally, I loved reading future canon fics where Gwen and Arthur had children, at first because in the legends Gwen tends to be barren, but then I learnt from a friend in the fandom (who studied Arthurian legends at uni) that in the original legends (where Lancelot didn’t even exist) Arthur and Gwen did have children. So that for me (and quite a few others) was a popular headcanon to imagine Arthur and Gwen with children.
M: What’s your favourite Arwen episode from the show?
ER88: This is so tough, but it has to be 3×10 The Queen of Hearts. Not only did we get a vision of Gwen becoming Queen and being married to Arthur, but we got some lovely Arwen scenes, that included a really steamy kiss! Too bad Morgana had to ruin it lol. But even when it got angsty it was great to have an episode that was focused on Arwen.
M: What’s your favourite Arwen quote from the show?
ER88: Arthur admitting to Merlin his feelings for Gwen:
ARTHUR: How can I admit that I think about her all the time. Or that…I care about her more than anyone. How can I admit that…I don’t know what I’ll do if any harm comes to her?
MERLIN: Why can’t you?
ARTHUR: Because nothing can ever happen between us! To admit my feelings knowing that…hurts too much.
MERLIN: Who’s to say nothing can happen?
ARTHUR: My father won’t let me rescue a servant. Do you honestly believe he’d let me marry one?
M: What’s your favourite Arwen scene from the show?
ER88: That’s so hard, because I literally love all of their scenes, but I would have to say that I love the scene where Gwen gives Arthur her token and he kisses her for the first time because I just remember how happy it made me and it was just an epic scene with the music and the lighting and how they react afterwards.
M: What’s your favourite Arwen fanwork?
ER88: I’m taking this to mean what type of fanworks are my favourite. Well, my favourite fanwork has to be fanfiction because I do love reading stories. However, fan art and fan vids are very close second.
M: What fanworks would you like to rec? (Put as many as you like, can be any type of work (fic, art, vid, etc.))
ER88: There are so many fics, art and vids I would love to rec, but seeing as it would take forever to name them all, I’m leaving the following links:
http://the–pendragons.tumblr.com – this is an Arwen blog I run on Tumblr and it has a lot of fanworks (fics, gif sets, far arts, fan vids etc).