The Role of Merlin in Le Morte D'Arthur

             One of the most interesting characters in literature is Merlin the
             magician. His name conjures up images of mystery and his actions reflect a
             medieval mysticism. Thomas Malory brings the role of Merlin into a place
             of significance in his tale, Le Morte D'Arthur by combining the elements of
             mysticism and religion. Malory adds a depth and texture to the character
             that represents Christian and mystical skills alike. Through this unlikely
             combination, Malory creates a Merlin that is worthy of inspection. The
             goal of this paper is to examine the character of Merlin as he is depicted
             in Le Morte D'Arthur and how Malory utilizes this character.
             The most interesting aspects of Merlin are that he is a splendid
             combination of secular and religious characteristics. In regards to
             understanding the role of Merlin and the mystical in Malory's Le Morte
             D'Arthur, we must first examine the context in which medieval stories were
             written. According Geoffrey Ashe, author of The Discovery of Arthur, it is
             important to realize that medieval writers often crafted characters to be
             medieval. To put it simply, "Arthurian adventures . . . were handled in
             medieval terms and expressed medieval interests" (Ashe 14). It is safe to
             assume that although the Arthur story has been "modified," we can also know
             in a "hazy way that realities underlie it" (Ashe 15). Eugene Vinaver
             explains that writers such as Malory began expressing historical events
             from their own point of view. He concludes:
             This habit soon became the very essence of courtly romance. Whatever
             the subject of the narrative, its primary function as conceived by
             twelfth- and thirteenth-century poets was to serve as an expression
             of the thoughts and emotions inspired by courtly idealism, to
             translate in terms of actions and characters the subtle varieties of
             courtly sentiment and the highly sophist...

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