Merlin the Young Warlock The Hero Archetype and Merlin

MikeAP001 posted on Jan 28, 2012 at 09:07PM
I can't help noticing the similarity in the plot and planning of this series and the individual episodes with the Hero Archetype model of story telling. In brief, it is a theory used by many including JRR Tolkien (inferred but not admitted) to George Lucas (unashamedly admitted) which states that collectively, society has an ideal of a hero, expectations of that hero, and when the story teller meets those expectations, the audience (us) feels satisfied and when the tale does not then we feel something amiss.

And, I see that in the Merlin-o-verse, as far as I can tell, the stories/episodes go through each of the Stages while the central theme for each of the Series/Seasons follow the Stages of the Hero's Journey:

Stage 1: Departure: The hero is called to adventure, although he is reluctant to accept. (Season 1)
Stage 2: Initiation: The hero crosses a threshold into a new, more dangerous world, gaining a more mature perspective. (Season 2)
Stage 3: The Road of Trials: The hero is given supernatural aid, endures tests of strength, resourcefulness, and endurance. (Season 3)
Stage 4: The Innermost Cave: The hero faces a great trial. It is a period of undoing, and change. Because of this trial, the hero is reborn in some way: physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Through this experience, the hero changes internally. (Season 4)
Stage 5: Return and Reintegration with Society: The hero uses his new wisdom to restore the land of Albion (Season 5?)

Arthur has a similar story line as both King and Prince. Using this, a few episodes have "blanks" which the outline for the Hero Archetype allows the viewer to fill. And so, we know that Merlin can't remember or has difficulty giving Arthur a sword because we know it is not the right sword for Arthur. However, this reliance on allowing viewers to fill in the blanks can result in plot holes.

That's because the Merlin people might forgot some important things about the Hero Archetype:

1) the Hero gets the prize in the end --- if he loses one, he gains another. So, if Merlin were to lose one love, we expect him to (re)gain another. Remember: from Smallville, Clark lost Lana but gained Lois. Chloe longed for Clark (could have had him) but gained Oliver. Or if Merlin were to lose his stature among the KORT, he should have regained it by the end of the episode. So in Lamia, if after Arthur's teasing, Merlin visited the ailing Knights and Gaius praised the young man for being a fine physician shaming Leon into an apology, Merlin regained the stature Gaius had built up for him earlier (while it's inferred this didn't happen but it would have been nice if it had).

2) the audience must be reminded of events--- so in The Herald of a New Age, we saw the consequences of Arthur's rescue when Morgana was "kidnap" by the Druids (S2: The Nightmare Begins). I think it would have been nicer if Arthur had said to Merlin at the Druid Shrine: "It was I who lead the attack. When I rescued Morgana…" (Though it is strongly inferred, this didn't happen. It would have been nice if it had because it would make Morgana more sympathetic, it would have evoked more emotion from Merlin who had the idea for Morgana to seek out the Druids in the first place, and it would have explained why Elyan, under the influence of the Druid Spirit, was violent toward Merlin during the training exercise). And, it would have subtly emphasized, the Merlin motif: even the best motives have unintended consequences.

3) repetition of themes is needed but differences must be made clear--- so, in the Nightmare Begins, the writers mentioned the differences between Morgana and Merlin though both had Magic. There, Merlin tells Gaius that he was lost like her and would still be if not for Gaius who taught him all that's good in magic. But, in stories like Lamia which is a re-telling of the Lady of the Lake, the viewer is never told why Lamia is evil while Freya is good. The viewer had to discover that Freya showed remorse and contrition for her actions while Lamia enjoyed hers. And, even then, it was unresolved.

4) the audience hopes for the best outcome for the Hero… give it to Merlin or at least the promise of it! The writers could have made Merlin progress both emotionally and socially. He could have become an official apprentice physician to Gaius and not just Arthur's lackey gaining stature in the eyes of Camelot.

5) Develop the Hero by developing the background players. It wouldn't hurt things to show or at least mention more interaction between the KORT and Merlin or Arthur. In Herald of a New Age, there was a mention of Arm Wrestling in the Tavern but no mention of Merlin and worse yet, no other episodes mentioned the off-duty antics of the KORT. We know from prior episodes that the great gambling games of Antiquity (stones-n-bones) were played in Camelot: DICE, CHESS, CARDS. It would have been nice to at least hear that Merlin participated in those and won (as he said he did in the Sword in the Stone).

It seems that the writers are following the Hero Archetype in Merlin and with a few tweaks, it would make the show even more enjoyable. Does anyone else think like this or is this just wishful thinking on my part?
last edited on Jan 29, 2012 at 03:42AM

Merlin the Young Warlock 1 reply

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il y a plus d’un an MikeAP001 said…
For those interested in a specific application of the Hero Archetype, I posted one at the Gaius forum: link . It is not finished but you can see how the Hero Archetype can be used.
last edited il y a plus d’un an