The brilliance of Arthur Morgan


Gigi Richardson Seifert

Explore the genius and complexities of popular video game character Arthur Morgan, the protagonist in “Red Dead Redemption 2,” through this article’s reflection and analysis.

Kelly Quinn, Writer

Red Dead Redemption 2,” a prequel to the first “Red Dead Redemption,” has many incredible aspects to its story. But despite that, the stand out part is certainty the protagonist Arthur Morgan (Roger Clark). While seemingly just a cold-hearted outlaw, as the player progresses through the game, Arthur’s motivations become more clear and his character arc more apparent. He begins to stray from the man who has influenced him for most his life, Dutch van der Linde (Benjamin Byron Davis), and seeks redemption for a lifetime of sin. 

The game opens with the Van der Linde Gang having just escaped into the mountains. Arthur is told to find John Marston (Rob Wiethoff), the protagonist of “Red Dead Redemption,” who has not returned from a scouting mission. Despite having some animosity towards John, Arthur agrees to do so. Immediately his main character traits can be seen. He has a rough exterior, a comedic side and is fiercely loyal to the gang. 

Another mission that is very important to understanding Arthur is when he goes to free Micah Bell (Peter Blomquist) from jail. It’s apparent that Arthur already has a disliking towards Micah, and the two are cleverly juxtaposed. While both kill, Arthur only ever does it if he has to, while Micah clearly enjoys committing massacres. 

Throughout the first four chapters of “Red Dead Redemption 2,” there are moments when Arthur questions Dutch’s plans, but he is loyal to a fault and does what he is told to do. However, there is a shift halfway through chapter five. After escaping Guarma, Arthur rides back to the gang’s camp at Shady Belle. But what makes this ride back so striking is the song that plays, “Unshaken.” It shows that Arthur is truly starting to question if Dutch is the same man he once saw him as.

This change Arthur begins to experience is amplified when he is diagnosed with tuberculosis, which he ironically got from beating a man when collecting his debt. Arthur faces death everyday, but knowing that his time is limited changes him. 

This all leads to his talk with Sister Calderón (Irene DeBari). Sister Calderón is a nun who he had helped previously in the game. Arthur tells her about his tuberculosis and that he is afraid, to which Sister Calderón responds, “There is nothing to be afraid of. Take a gamble that love exists, and do a loving act.”

And so Arthur does several loving acts. He helps the family of the man he got tuberculosis from. He puts an end to the gang’s way of putting people in debt. He helps a widow get back on her feet and participates in several other acts of kindness. While he may not be able to get redemption for all the evil he’s done, he can still use the time he has left to do good. 

But he truly does a loving act in the final mission of the game. After learning that Micah was actually ratting out the gang, everyone is divided and pinkertons, a branch of the police force that specializes in taking down outlaws, are on their tail. But Arthur really only has one goal: to get John Martson out safely. John has a wife and kid that he needs to get to, and Arthur swears to get John to them no matter the cost. Arthur knows he doesn’t have much time left, and he sacrifices himself so that John can get away. He fights off the pinkertons but is eventually bested by Micah.

Arthur uses his final breaths to watch the sun rise, closing the book on one of the greatest protagonists in all of fiction.

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