Shaping King Arthur and His Reign by Merlin’s Character Development

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Children, similar to mirrors, reflect images of what happens around them. They reflect the gestures, wisdom, and personality traits of the adults at an early age, then later carry them into adulthood. This analogy proves that the character of Merlin has a significant impact on King Arthur legend, for Merlin is the person who takes care of Arthur, educates, and raises him to the throne at the proper time.

Merlin informs Arthur with all of his knowledge while Arthur, on the other hand, perceives Merlin’s character and wisdom. Mary Stewart gives her audience cues about the legend of King Arthur, by which she wrote in the last chapter: “Throughout Arthur’s long reign, Merlin advised and helped him” (489). This piece of information tells the readers that not only Merlin makes Arthur a good king, but he also dedicates his passion for educating and guiding the growing emperor. Merlin begins his childhood as a lonely boy who is looked down upon and hated. Through the influences of specific people, such as Galapas, Ambrosius, and Belasius, Merlin eventually develops into a sophisticated person. He uses his prophecy along with the acquired intelligence to help his father build their kingdom, thus far preparing for the reign of King Arthur. Following Ambrosius’ words: “A man takes power where it is offered” (163), Merlin humbly learns to become a healer, a seer, an engineer, and at the end, a kingmaker.

Like a child will follow his parents’ step, King Arthur will reflect from Merlin his character and the insight on how to be a just, worthy ruler. In the beginning of the novel Merlin, an illegitimate son of Lady Niniane, grew up in his grandfather’s hatred and his relatives’ malice intention of killing him. Denied by his family, Merlin is ironically accepted by the outcast; and eventually, he forms with them the bonds that run thicker than blood. For this reason, Merlin always has empathy for the weak — he understands their lives and the feeling of being shunned by society. Unlike Merlin’s uncle who heartlessly kills Camlach, a servant, in order to accomplish his desire, Merlin sees Camlach as his friend and miserably sheds tears over his death. In addition, Merlin’s excitement when he witnesses a ceremony of human sacrifice makes him ashamed. He knows he should not fall into temptation, and that he must keep in his heart the love as well as respect for anyone’s life regardless of their social status. Perhaps, it is these virtues and good qualities Arthur learned from Merlin that make him the greatest King of Britain.

In conclusion, the development in character of Merlin throughout the novel plays a huge role in shaping King Arthur and his reign. Undergoes abandonment and life-threatening in his youth, Merlin ultimately forms a new persona the moment he decides to run away from his birthplace. As Merlin continues his journey, he emerges from a defenseless dove to a smart falcon that can courageously face dangers. With the thirst for knowledge as well as the supports come from significant people, Merlin evolves into a gallant wolf, a wiseful individual whose mission from God is to bring the conception of Arthur and raise him to the throne of Britain. In the end, Merlin successfully executed what God has entrusted. Merlin’s role as a guider effectively impacts King Arthur’s life; thus, the king’s long reign will remark the love, virtue, and knowledge he has acquired from his nurturer.


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