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Different Aspects Of Merlin


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Different Aspects Of Merlin Essay, Research Paper

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.

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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