In Geoffrey of Monmouth and Sir Thomas Malory’s medieval Arthurian texts, History of the Kings of Britain and Le Morte D’Arthur, Merlin is presented as a primary character with nuanced character traits and unique abilities. Merlin stands out because his often analyzed secondary roles as magician, prophet, and counselor culminate in a larger, primary role. Merlin is a nationalist. As such, he shows how legend and historical narrative can shape the history of a country. Through the texts, Merlin disseminates a distinct English identity based upon a shared lineage of valorous deeds and triumphant emancipations from foreign invaders achieved through unified action. Merlin’s depiction as a historical figure in the texts positions him to offer the British hope for the preservation of English identity and self-governance in the future.
Date of publication
David Strong, Ph.D., Carolyn Tilghman, Ph.D., Catherine Ross, Ph.D.
Master of Arts in English
Johnson, Ashley C., "Merlin’s Role as Nationalist in Monmouth and Malory" (2018). English Department Theses. Paper 16.