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Arthurian Legend - Assessment

Preliminary English Extension

Meerna Sawaqed

on 22 July 2013

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Transcript of Arthurian Legend - Assessment

Allie Pennington, the daughter of two medieval literature scholars, transfers to Avalon High and becomes involved in a prophesied re-staging of Arthurian legend. A research project for history class begins to surface some similarities between her new friends (Will, Jen, Lance, Miles and Marco) and the legend of King Arthur, in which she discovers that they are the reincarnations of the Arthurian Legend (Will as King Arthur, Jen as Guinevere, Lance and Lancelot, Miles as Merlin and Marco as Mordred). As Allie gets closer to her classmates, she starts to experience visions of King Arthur and starts to suspect that the legend of the prophecy is true. Together, Miles and Allie discover the day King Arthur is prophesied to return.
On the night of the game, Allie and Miles watch as the prophesied eclipse and meteor shower takes place. Going to the school theatre they find Mr. Moore, who reveals that he is really Mordred, and that Marco was really a member of the Order of the Bear who was sworn to protect Arthur. He then attacks the group. Allie grabs a prop sword to stop Mr. Moore but the sword transforms into the Excalibur, revealing that she is the real reincarnation of King Arthur. Mr. Moore and Allie duel in an alternative reality, where Will, Marco, Miles (Merlin), Lance (Lancelot) are also present and fighting. Allie wins with the help of Merlin and defeats Mordred.
The movie closes with all the characters gathered together at the round table dressed as their legendary counterparts.

The Arthurian Legend
Investigate how the Arthurian Legend has been appropraited through time...
Before we can understand the appropriations, let’s go back to the core of King Arthur’s legend…
Key Features of the legend in "Le Morte D’Arthur" by Sir Thomas Malory:

• Arthur Pendragon was a heroic figure of his time and was destined for great things.
• He was prophecised to be the King of the Kingdom of Camelot.
• Arthur was born to parents Uther and Igraine Pendragon, making them the current king and queen of Camelot.
• Following the death of his father, he was to take over his reign and become king.
• Arthur needed an interfering force to assist him through his heroic quest. This character would be Merlin, a great wizard, who could perform spells and see the future in order to keep Arthur safe and out of danger.
• Arthur was married to the beautiful Guinevere.
• Guinevere however, was in love with one of Camelot’s greatest knights and Arthur’s closest friend, Lancelot, creating the concept of the love triangle between them.
• The concept of the round table, established by Arthur. As it has no head, not even for Arthur, it implies that everyone who sits there has an equal status and that they were each highly favoured.
• Arthur also had an affair with one of his half sisters, Morgan le Fay, in which she bore their bastard son, Mordred
• As his name suggests, Mordred will bring down Camelot and the once and future king, Arthur, eventually leading to his death.
• King Arthur is highly admired. He constantly displays actions of loyalty and shows that he is a trusted king, and one the people can count on.
Characterisation of Arthur (what he stands for)
The characterisation of Arthur did not drastically change from the traditional Arthurian Legend:

Arthur is depicted to be

"the once and future king"

when he/she does become king, all the inequality and unfairness that Camelot faces will vanish.
Arthur is viewed as

"the king of the people"

he/she puts himself/herself on their level and does whatever he/she can to stand by them.
Arthur stood for creating the utopia that he and Merlin have dreamed of.

Arthur is essentially loyal, caring, fair, just, forgiving, honest, and compassionate.
Arthur was a noble and string leader amongst all.
Arthur displays the utmost respect to all the members of his court and the citizens of Camelot.
Arthur stood up for what he believed in and did not allow for his people to be falsely accused.

More specifically in: MERLIN

Arthur shifted from the traditional male character to a female, challenging assumed gender roles.
Arthur was characterised honesty, fairness and self-sacrifice and she possessed traits of an unwitting hero.
Arthur was a strong believer in justice, and her return would bring the people to a new age.
Arthur stood for peace and harmony in the world.

More specifically in: AVALON HIGH

Merlin is a young wizard who arrives in the Kingdom of Camelot after his mother arranges for him to stay with the court physician, Gaius. He discovers that the king, Uther Pendragon has outlawed magic and imprisoned the last Dragon, Kilgarah, deep under the kingdom. After hearing a mysterious voice inside his head, Merlin makes his way to the cave beneath Camelot where the Great Dragon tells Merlin that he plays an important role, and that is to protect Uther's son, Arthur, who will bring forth a great kingdom. When Merlin meets Arthur, he believes that he is an arrogant and rude bully and Arthur, likewise, has negative an opinion of Merlin. After saving the Prince's life, Merlin becomes his servant and the two eventually become friends. However, Uther's actions of banning magic causes his ward, Morgana to turn against Camelot, and Merlin must ally himself with the Once and Future King to save the kingdom of Albion.
The storyline of both texts have altered significantly, however, major concepts and integral characters have remained.

The storyline and other integral characters

Merlin is Arthur’s servant and Gaius’ ward. He must secretly develop his magical gifts without the knowledge of Uther and Arthur. Merlin also has an alter ego of “Emrys”, who is conjured when Merlin performs an aging spell upon himself. He inspires intense fear in Morgana, who only recognises him as Emrys, her prophetic nemesis and doom.
Arthur Pendragon:
Arthur is the prince and later king of Camelot, and the commander of the knights of Camelot. He welcomes Lancelot, Gwaine, Percival, Elyan and Mordred as knights, even though they are not of noble blood and falls in love with Gwen, a mere serving girl and maid of Morgana. Most importantly, he comes to regard his servant Merlin as a close friend and confidant, never realising how many times Merlin has had to save his life using magic.
Gunievere “Gwen”:
Guinevere is Morgana's servant who later rises to become queen of Camelot. Her relationship with Arthur at first causes conflict within the kingdom, however, Arthur could not keep his feelings for Gwen hidden, even as his father commanded him never to see her. Much to Arthur’s liking, Gwen proves popular among the people and they happily marry.
Morgana Pendragon:
Morgana is Uther's ward who is later revealed to be his daughter. Initially portrayed as a kind and empathetic young woman, Morgana comes to despise Uther when she realises he would never accept her if he knew of her magical powers, and begins secretly plotting against him. She becomes the show's primary villain, relentlessly coveting Arthur's throne and coming to recognise Emrys (Merlin) for the formidable foe that he is, despite not knowing what he is capable of.
Gaius is the court physician and Merlin's guardian and mentor. Once practiced magic, but has abandoned it since. However, he is willing to help foster Merlin's talents, and comes to love him as his own son. An eminently wise man with a long memory, Gaius is one of Uther's closest advisers, and always among the first to realise what is really happening when the kingdom is threatened by magic.
The Great Dragon:
The last of the dragons after Uther destroys all of his kind. Uther was unable to end the Great Dragon himself, imprisons him in a vast underground cave. The Great Dragon gives Merlin grudging advice on how to keep Arthur out of danger but persistently demands his freedom in return.
Uther Pendragon:
Uther is Camelot's stubborn and hard-hearted king, who shows Arthur constant tough love and ruthlessly enforces the kingdom's strict ban on sorcery. Although meaning well, Uther earns himself many enemies in his brutal fight against magic, and Morgana's ultimate betrayal drives him to ultimate madness, leading to his death.

The Storyline of MERLIN
The Integral Characters of MERLIN
The Storyline of AVALON HIGH
The Integral Characters of AVALON HIGH
Allie Pennington (King Arthur):
Allie was the new student to Avalon High after her parents moved them to several places due to their demanding jobs. The story’s plot thickens when it is revealed that she is the real reincarnation of King Arthur and not Will.
Will Wagner:
Will is one of the most popular football jocks in the school and is the quarterback. He was assumed to be the reincarnation of King Arthur.
Miles (Merlin):
Miles is a smart yet anti-social nerd who is constantly picked on. Upon befriending Allie, he learns more about his gift of seeing the future in which she advises him on it and concludes that he is the reincarnation of the great wizard, Merlin.
Marco Campbell:
Marco is Will’s step-brother, who is portrayed as “evil” all throughout until he reveals that he has only been trying to protect Will and his nasty actions were only a disguise. He is a member of the Order of the Bear.
Jennifer (Guinevere):
Jen is a initially Will’s girlfriend and member of the cheerleading squad. She is a also very good friend of Lance’s. She and Lance however, have been having an affair behind Will’s back, which initiates the concept of the love triangle between them.
Lance (Lancelot):
Lance is Will’s best friend and member of the football team. He has been having an affair with Will’s girlfriend, Jen.
Mr. Moore (Mordred):
Mr. Moore is the history teacher at Avalon High. He seems to be good-heated at first but then reveals himself to be the reincarnation of Mordred, aiming to destroy Arthur but is defeated.Mr. and Mrs
Allie’s parents and professors in medieval literature. They have been constantly moving, with Allie, to numerous locations, but have decided to settle her in Avalon High. They have also provided most of the answers about the Order of the Bear.
Themes and Motifs
Good vs. Evil –
the universal concept when discussing “Good vs. Evil” is that good ALWAYS overrides evil. However, the heroes are constantly trying to prove themselves worthy and honourable in order to achieve peace, and the villains are preventing this from happening, which brings about speculation on whether the hero’s quest requires the evil nature of some characters to fully prove themselves. To some degree, the hero is the battle between good and evil themselves. They drift off from their goal and must reconcile their wrong doings in order to journey on. Generally, Arthur tends to stray off his path and prove himself once again. Otherwise, it is the evil characters who bring out the worst in the hero.
More specifically in: MERLIN
it is crucial for the hero to initiate a sense of hope in their followers. This allows them gain trust and faith in their hero to bring them from any troubles they face and save all of humankind. Having too much hope can be dangerous as if one cannot fulfill the task they aimed to accomplish, than hope will be lost once and for all. Having self- belief goes hand in hand with the concept of hope in a hero’s quest. Arthur always gave his knights and citizens of Camelot hope in times of danger.
More specifically in: AVALON HIGH
the notion of having a “destiny” in a hero’s quest is quite significant. This relates to one’s prophecised life mission in order for a specific purpose to served. If one is not focused on fulfilling their destiny, then the hero will surely reach their downfall quicker than authors, playwrights or directors would have intended. It was the destiny of the legend of King Arthur to return and be reincarnated into a bunch of high school students.
The Cup of Life:

It symbolises the triumphs and downfalls of the hero. The triumphs occurred when the water contained inside the Cup of Life balanced out the nature of the universe and allowed for Merlin, Arthur and Gaius to walk away with their lives. The downfalls took place when the Cup of Life fell into the wrong hands, the hands of Morgana and she created an immortal army that cannot be defeated.
Lake of Avalon:

From the Lake of Avalon, Merlin was able to obtain the Excalibur. It was forged under the Great Dragon’s breath and placed, by Freya, in the Lake of Avalon. Using this sword and this sword alone, Merlin was able to defeat Morgana’s immortal army and thus, save Arthur and Camelot once again.
The Book of the Order of the Bear:
this is a concept tat hasn’t been identified in previous appropriations of the Arthurian Legend. It suggests that the Legend of King Arthur will return and its reincarnation will occur. It is through this book that Allie and Miles obtain their information about this prophecy and its significance is constantly highlighted throughout.
King Arthur’s Crown:
The continuous reappearance of this symbol signifies the importance of the prophecy and in the King of Camelot returning to the world, as it seems to be that his presence is truly needed. Allie first saw the symbol in the Book of the Order of the Bear, and then, in Will’s room. This is where the idea that he in the reincarnation of King Arthur would have been established.

Quest Conventions
1. Call to adventure:
Allie’s parents decided to move her to Avalon High. The location seems quite significant to them and they promised her she would remain there until she graduates from high school.
2. Refusal:
The refusal occurred when Mrs Pennington explained to Allie and Miles the concept of the Order of the Bear in which Mr. Pennington refused to believe that a reincarnation would actually occur and that his wife was overthinking the concept.
3. Supernatural Aid:
Miles – he is the reincarnation of Merlin, the greatest wizard. He assists Allie throughout their quest. Allie’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Pennington – they gave Allie and Miles the information about the Order of the Bear in order to continue on with their quest.
4. Crossing the first threshold:
This occurred when Allie and Miles received the research project in history class, relating to King Arthur’s legend, about the Order of the Bear. This instigated the initial thought of whether the concept of the reincarnation of the Arthurian Legend could possibly take place or not.
5. Belly of the beast:
This occurred when Will arrived to school early to prepare for the big game, in which he sees Jen and Lance together in his car, allowing him to have it made known to him that his girlfriend and best friend are having an affair behind his back.
6. Road of trials:
This occurred after Allie was told about the Order of the Bear in which she made up her own conclusions about who the reincarnation figures of the school could be. She, with the aid of Merlin, tried to do whatever they though was right in order to make the prophecy come true. This involved Miles having another psychic vision, leading him to Allie’s house where he reveals a secret page to the Order book and they are enlightened with further knowledge that assists them with keeping Will focused on the goal. As he is wasn’t understanding the messages Allie was sending, she and Miles took matters into their own hands (this was during the time Allie thought Will was the reincarnation of King Arthur)
7. Meeting with the goddess:
Allie went running one day and wanted to get a drink from the bubbler. She ran into Will, who immediately caught her eye. She then came to realize that he attends the same school she will soon start.
8. Woman as temptress:
The character of Mordred. This is first seen to be Marco, the supposed “evil’ step-brother of Will. However, Mr. Moore reveals his reincarnated identity to be Mordred in which he will try to bring her down in a major battle.
9. Atonement:
As Allie, Will, Miles and Marco were in the theatre, Allie questioned his sudden alliance with Will in which he revealed to them that he was really a member of the Order of the Bear and was trying to protect Arthur all along. His nastiness was all an act in which he apologised for.
10. Return
: Allie, Mordred, Will, Miles and Lance return from the alternate reality of the battle, being the school theatre, and Mr. Moore is escorted out, hence Arthur defeated Mordred.
11. Major battle/sacrifice:
As Allie picks up a prop sword; it transforms into the Excalibur, in which she alone can wield. She is then placed in an alternate reality, the setting of a beach, in which she must face Mordred (Mr. Moore) in battle. As the battle continues, Will, Marco and Lance (Lancelot) are battling it out against Mordred’s men. Arthur (Allie) enlists on the assistance of Merlin (Miles) to to defeat Mordred once and for all. Merlin, from a distance, removes Mordred’s staff from his grasp and turns it into a weapon for himself, making him defenseless and powerless against Arthur. They all return to the setting of their school theatre. Mr. Moore is then taken away by a security guard who thinks he has gone insane, representing Arthur overcoming Mordred.
12. Reward:
As Arthur conquered Mordred, the worries of living through an age of darkness have disappeared. Will and his team mates won their football game and were off to the state championship. Finally, all the prominent members of King Arthur’s court have gathered at a round table, demonstrating the concept of equality.

1. The call to adventure:
When Merlin arrived in Camelot. He was sent their by his mother to be under the care of the court physician Gaius, where his gift will be nurtured an and developed throughout the quest.
2. Refusal:
Merlin heard voices, thinking it was coming from inside his head. He followed the voices and he was lead to an underground cave in Camelot where a dragon was located. This Great Dragon told merlin of his destiny to protects Arthur. Merlin did not believe this to be true and refused to listen any further.
3. Supernatural Aid:
Gaius – the court physician who once practiced the craft of magic. He has extensive knowledge on sorcery and magic and assists Merlin with it and in becoming the greatest wizard the world has ever seen. The Great Dragon – it is he, Kilgarah, who has very possible information that Merlin could require in fulfilling his destiny. He aids Merlin with the toughest of decisions to make.
4. Crossing the first threshold:
When Merlin first encountered prince Arthur, he though very ill of him. However, at a gathering the Uther held, Merlin used magic to save Arthur from a falling chandelier. This impressed Uther very much and made Merlin Arthur’s servant, hence, being in a better position to protect Arthur and fulfilling his destiny.
5. Belly of the beast
: Merlin has undergone numerous mini quests. One of these would be defeating the Questing Beast, and this is Merlin’s first time using magic on a weapon to overcome a creature of the old religion.
6. Road of trials:
Merlin has had many opportunities where he proves himself on his quest. He began with trying the control is magic which continued on to braver things such as attending hunts with Arthur.
7. Meeting with the goddess:
Merlin had encountered Freya, who was later known to be the Lady of the Lake. They had a liking for one another, but then she died.
8. Woman as temptress:
This role belongs to Morgana. She is constantly trying to vanquish Arthur from the throne and take over the reign of Camelot in order to reinstate the use of magic into the kingdom.
9. Atonement
: Gaius made known to Merlin that the last dragon lord to ever exist is his father, Balinor. Ne and Arthur travelled to his location in order to bring him back to get Kilgarah to stop attacking Camelot. This was his first ever encounter with him and he died in that same moment. However, the craft of the Dragon Lord is passed on from father to son, making Merlin eligible to complete the task and make his father proud.
10. Return:
After Merlin witnessed Balinor slowly die, he lost faith in himself and his magic. But Balinore spoke a few words to encourage Merlin and he listened to him and returned to Camelot with Arthur to rescue all.
11. Major battle/sacrifice:
This occurred when Merlin (Emrys) defeated Morgana. Morgana knew that Emrys would be her doom and so it was. The main villain was overcome.
12. Reward:
Merlin has been through so much and his final reward is immortality. This is because he awaits Arthur’s destined return when Albion is in need.

Context and Values
Merlin was presented in the context of the original Arthurian Legend. This was evident as the way the spoke, dressed, ate and lived represented the Arthurian period. However, as the series was being presented to a more contemporary audience some of the elements of the original text had to change.
These included: Uther’s affair with Igraine before they married and bore a chid and Arthur’s affair with Morgan le Fay, his half-sister (otherwise known as Morgana in Merlin). These kinds of views would not have appropriate to modern day responders as the values of the entire society changed.
Avalon High is presented in a modern-day context. It is rooted in Arthurian Legend and targeted to tweens and so many of the elements that would have originally been present can no longer be condoned. These may include: extensive amounts of sword play and romance, but also, the affairs and other acts that go against the values of this particular society.
The main storyline has been grasped but in this particular adaptation, the hero has been changed into a female, showing a challenge in gender perceptions and which gender should or shouldn’t assume which role.

In Merlin, the value of Religion (Christianity) has remained. As the original text shows a society that maintains Christian embedded values, the adaptation of Merlin portrays the same concept, particularly to suit the audience of the society.

It is evident that in Avon High, a feministic approach has been demonstrated. By re-evaluating the role of Arthur into a female, this allows the society in which this text was composed to accept feminism and allow for that movement to take place.
Social Commentary

Christian embedded values have been maintained
Adapting to the context and audience of youth
Equality presented for each member of Camelot
The inclusion of a dragon represents the power and excellence that comes forth from Kilgarah
Merlin having an alter ego, Emrys betters his character as he becomes a more powerful sorcerer and is able defeat Morgana

Presenting the hero, Arthur as a female
Displaying equality and fairness throughout
Keeping to the main traditional elements
Adapting the context to suit that of a younger audience
The Order of the Bear being a new addition made to the original legend

VIDEOS and more PICS!
By: Meerna Sawaqed :)
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