King Arthur And Merlin Essay

Merlin is a popular character when it comes to the stories of King Arthur and
other stories dealing with the Arthurian age. In most of the stories written
about him they refer to him as the magician, kingmaker, and prophet. We also
know him as the one that takes care of Arthur from birth, who set him on the
throne, who established him there in the early days of his reign as king. While
most books agree that he knew King Arthur and watched over him from birth, what
was he really, was he a magician with a beard in a tall pointed hat and long
cloak with a magic wand that performed magic or was he a prophet that could for
see the future as portrayed in the “Crystal Cave” or was he something else.


In the “Crystal Cave” Merlin is portrayed as a prophet that can see into the
future with the help of the pattern of crystals in the cave that he discovered.

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Here he is not portrayed as a magician but rather it shows us his technical
abilities, like when he moved “Hele Stone” of Stonehenge with the machine he
built, rather then raising the whole stone or causing it to fly through the air
or float across the sea. He is then portrayed as the “kingmaker” when at the
end he is given Arthur to raise and teach so he would be ready to take over the
thrown when he got older. Merlin may also be known as a lover “Last
Enchantment”, when while under Arthur’s rule, Merlin retires to the
wilderness and there is attacked y a subtle poison given to him by Morgause, he
is later nursed back to health by a young girl named Ninian. After that Ninian
becomes Merlin’s pupil until in the end when his powers begin to fade and she
takes over the role of guardian of Arthur’s realm. “Merlin’s more
passionate side is also showed in a book written by James Branch Cabell. In the
book titled “Something About Eve” Merlin is summoned along with King Solomon
and Odysseus to give an account of himself before the passes ?into the realms
of the otherworld’ to discover the true meaning of his life, here Merlin
confesses that he was happy for a long time in his tower, until he saw his
people of the Arthurian age begin to break each other and to become filled with
hate and lust and barbarity. But even then he lingers on, happy with his child
love and peace of his tower, only now does he seek enlightenment in the
Otherworld, where he might find failure of his dream.”(Stewart, 96) Merlin for
whatever reason does not cease to be concerned with this world and the people
who live in it. Merlin’s love of women, sometimes moralized into a sexual
weakness, is a reflection of his otherworldly father’s love for his mother.


This in turn relates to one of the most ancient mythical themes, and like all
Merlinic lore is intimately concerned with both environment and the spiritual
intimations found in all religions, magic, and mysticism. Thus the various
sexual convolutions of Merlin in the modern fiction are not merely
misunderstandings of the source of material but are explorations of a universal
theme expressed through the mediating figure of Merlin. Merlin is also seen as a
teacher, like in Parke Godwin’s “Firelord”. Here Merlin is in a sense
Arthur’s own inner self, able to show him a vision of the future, of the great
king and warrior whose presence draws the very utmost effort from the men who
follow him, the man that Arthur is to become, driven by the Merlin within. In
T.H. White’s “The Sword in the Stone” Merlin teaches by example, turning
Arthur into animal, fish, or bird. Doing so he learns many things, from his
encounter with a great pike that lives beneath the walls of his
foster-father’s castle, he learns that power for its own sake leads nowhere.


Arthur as a bird discovers that boundaries are an illusion fought over without
reason. All that he learns allows him to portray his good character as he pulls
the sword from the stone that made him king. Him being a teacher is also seen in
the “Crystal Cave” when he is given Arthur at birth to teach because he did
not have a father that wanted him, and so his mother thought that giving the
child to Merlin would be the wisest thing to do. In Catherine Christians “The
Sword and the Flame” it has Merlin arranging for Arthur to acquire his second,
more famous sword, Excalibur. Instead of him receiving the sword from the Lady
of the Lake, Merlin assists in its forging by an ancient Smith God from a lump
of meteorite. “That the shaping of King or sword may extend beyond a single
lifetime is shown in those versions of the story where Merlin or Arthur come
again, after a long sleep, in Avalon or the Hawthorn Tower, to continue the work
left unfinished at the end of the Arthurian Age.” (Stewart, 99) When writing
about Merlin there are three aspect that author’s look into, the bright youth,
the mad prophet and shaman, and the wise elder. All three are concerned with the
interaction of spiritual and magical powers, with a strong emphasis in the works
of John Cowper-Powys and C.S. Lewis. Merlin born of a moral mother and an
otherworld spirit according to the chronicles acts as the mediator for deep
powers manifesting through the land into human consciousness. His threefold
appearance is initially that of the lifetime of any person, youth, adulthood,
maturity, but into each of these aspects is channeled the most potent dynamic
power, imagery, and mystery of each life phase. As a youth, he is the eternal
child, of spiritual purity, as a mature man he is the wild fervent power of
magic or transforming consciousness, as an elder he is the epitome of wisdom,
learning, transcendent knowledge, and experience. ” In fictional works
unconnected to one another, this coherence out of diversity is apparent and
occasionally the deep ancient god-form appears, the non-human power behind the
semi-human Merlin. This power may also take a number of shapes. But what is
remarkable is that authors of quite different style, cultural background and
quality of work may be imaginatively aware of its existence. There is no
chronicle source for Merlin as a god or titanic power, only a few hints in early
Welsh poetry. Later romances and chronicles were divided between the magician of
Arthur’s court and the increasingly orthodox image of a diabolical being,
though there is no mention of Merlin linked to Arthur in the early sources, and
certainly no question of evil.”(Stewart, 82) Merlin has remained dark and
mysterious despite everything. Yet somehow, none of those who have chosen to
write about him have been able to resist asking the question of whom or what he
is. Answers they have come up with are different from author to author,
picturing him as god or jester, as a prophet, wiseman, as an old lover as an
alien being brought to earth on cosmic business, as a wondrous child or as a
charlatan and a liar and a madman. But always, between the disguises, we glimpse
another face, that of an old pilgrim and wanderer, sent here long ago to guide
and guard the destiny of kings and of men. We perhaps know Merlin best in his
most familiar appearance, him being the wise and foresighted wizard who stands
behind Arthur in the early days of his reign who acts as advisor and councilor
to the young king until he himself is ensnared by a beautiful young woman who
becomes his apprentice. The different aspects of Merlin Merlin is a popular
character when it comes to the stories of King Arthur and other stories dealing
with the Arthurian age. In most of the stories written about him they refer to
him as the magician, kingmaker, and prophet. We also know him as the one that
takes care of Arthur from birth, who set him on the throne, who established him
there in the early days of his reign as king. While most books agree that he
knew King Arthur and watched over him from birth, what was he really, was he a
magician with a beard in a tall pointed hat and long cloak with a magic wand
that performed magic or was he a prophet that could for see the future as
portrayed in the “Crystal Cave” or was he something else. In the “Crystal
Cave” Merlin is portrayed as a prophet that can see into the future with the
help of the pattern of crystals in the cave that he discovered. Here he is not
portrayed as a magician but rather it shows us his technical abilities, like
when he moved “Hele Stone” of Stonehenge with the machine he built, rather
then raising the whole stone or causing it to fly through the air or float
across the sea. He is then portrayed as the “kingmaker” when at the end he
is given Arthur to raise and teach so he would be ready to take over the thrown
when he got older. Merlin may also be known as a lover “Last Enchantment”,
when while under Arthur’s rule, Merlin retires to the wilderness and there is
attacked y a subtle poison given to him by Morgause, he is later nursed back to
health by a young girl named Ninian. After that Ninian becomes Merlin’s pupil
until in the end when his powers begin to fade and she takes over the role of
guardian of Arthur’s realm. “Merlin’s more passionate side is also showed
in a book written by James Branch Cabell. In the book titled “Something About
Eve” Merlin is summoned along with King Solomon and Odysseus to give an
account of himself before the passes ?into the realms of the otherworld’ to
discover the true meaning of his life, here Merlin confesses that he was happy
for a long time in his tower, until he saw his people of the Arthurian age begin
to break each other and to become filled with hate and lust and barbarity. But
even then he lingers on, happy with his child love and peace of his tower, only
now does he seek enlightenment in the Otherworld, where he might find failure of
his dream.”(Stewart, 96) Merlin for whatever reason does not cease to be
concerned with this world and the people who live in it. Merlin’s love of
women, sometimes moralized into a sexual weakness, is a reflection of his
otherworldly father’s love for his mother. This in turn relates to one of the
most ancient mythical themes, and like all Merlinic lore is intimately concerned
with both environment and the spiritual intimations found in all religions,
magic, and mysticism. Thus the various sexual convolutions of Merlin in the
modern fiction are not merely misunderstandings of the source of material but
are explorations of a universal theme expressed through the mediating figure of
Merlin. Merlin is also seen as a teacher, like in Parke Godwin’s “Firelord”.


Here Merlin is in a sense Arthur’s own inner self, able to show him a vision
of the future, of the great king and warrior whose presence draws the very
utmost effort from the men who follow him, the man that Arthur is to become,
driven by the Merlin within. In T.H. White’s “The Sword in the Stone”
Merlin teaches by example, turning Arthur into animal, fish, or bird. Doing so
he learns many things, from his encounter with a great pike that lives beneath
the walls of his foster-father’s castle, he learns that power for its own sake
leads nowhere. Arthur as a bird discovers that boundaries are an illusion fought
over without reason. All that he learns allows him to portray his good character
as he pulls the sword from the stone that made him king. Him being a teacher is
also seen in the “Crystal Cave” when he is given Arthur at birth to teach
because he did not have a father that wanted him, and so his mother thought that
giving the child to Merlin would be the wisest thing to do. In Catherine
Christians “The Sword and the Flame” it has Merlin arranging for Arthur to
acquire his second, more famous sword, Excalibur. Instead of him receiving the
sword from the Lady of the Lake, Merlin assists in its forging by an ancient
Smith God from a lump of meteorite. “That the shaping of King or sword may
extend beyond a single lifetime is shown in those versions of the story where
Merlin or Arthur come again, after a long sleep, in Avalon or the Hawthorn
Tower, to continue the work left unfinished at the end of the Arthurian Age.”
(Stewart, 99) When writing about Merlin there are three aspect that author’s
look into, the bright youth, the mad prophet and shaman, and the wise elder. All
three are concerned with the interaction of spiritual and magical powers, with a
strong emphasis in the works of John Cowper-Powys and C.S. Lewis. Merlin born of
a moral mother and an otherworld spirit according to the chronicles acts as the
mediator for deep powers manifesting through the land into human consciousness.


His threefold appearance is initially that of the lifetime of any person, youth,
adulthood, maturity, but into each of these aspects is channeled the most potent
dynamic power, imagery, and mystery of each life phase. As a youth, he is the
eternal child, of spiritual purity, as a mature man he is the wild fervent power
of magic or transforming consciousness, as an elder he is the epitome of wisdom,
learning, transcendent knowledge, and experience. ” In fictional works
unconnected to one another, this coherence out of diversity is apparent and
occasionally the deep ancient god-form appears, the non-human power behind the
semi-human Merlin. This power may also take a number of shapes. But what is
remarkable is that authors of quite different style, cultural background and
quality of work may be imaginatively aware of its existence. There is no
chronicle source for Merlin as a god or titanic power, only a few hints in early
Welsh poetry. Later romances and chronicles were divided between the magician of
Arthur’s court and the increasingly orthodox image of a diabolical being,
though there is no mention of Merlin linked to Arthur in the early sources, and
certainly no question of evil.”(Stewart, 82) Merlin has remained dark and
mysterious despite everything. Yet somehow, none of those who have chosen to
write about him have been able to resist asking the question of whom or what he
is. Answers they have come up with are different from author to author,
picturing him as god or jester, as a prophet, wiseman, as an old lover as an
alien being brought to earth on cosmic business, as a wondrous child or as a
charlatan and a liar and a madman. But always, between the disguises, we glimpse
another face, that of an old pilgrim and wanderer, sent here long ago to guide
and guard the destiny of kings and of men. We perhaps know Merlin best in his
most familiar appearance, him being the wise and foresighted wizard who stands
behind Arthur in the early days of his reign who acts as advisor and councilor
to the young king until he himself is ensnared by a beautiful young woman who
becomes his apprentice.

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