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BBC Merlin: The friendship between Arthur and Merlin

The show Merlin centers around a young sorcerer living in a world where magic is outlawed, trying to follow his destiny without being caught. The central relationship that defines the show is that of Merlin, the young sorcerer, and Arthur, the prince whose destiny is deeply intertwined with his.


Their first meeting on the pilot episode begins with Merlin, who is incredibly low on the social ladder, standing up and smarting off to Prince Arthur. He taunts him repeatedly, challenges him to a fight, and continues to antagonize until he eventually loses the fight. The day after their first encounter, he challenges him again, only to lose when the kingdom guard steps in. After both of these encounters, Merlin speaks to an old dragon and discovers that his destiny is to protect Arthur, which he denies vehemently. It’s not until the end of the episode, when he saves Arthur’s life for the first time and is taken on as his personal servant, that he realizes that maybe he can’t change his fate.


As their relationship develops throughout the series, they become close enough to consider each other friends. They’re good enough friends that it’s a well-known fact, to the point that Merlin can make jokes to the knights of Camelot about Arthur (such as saying he’s so annoying Merlin may just kill him) without them giving it a second thought because they understand that it’s okay for Merlin to say that, though it wouldn’t be for anyone else. They are able to joke around and insult each other and laugh about it, while Arthur could at any point say that Merlin must be punished for insulting him.


One major imbalance in their relationship, however, and possibly the most important factor to consider, is that Merlin saves Arthur’s life at least once a week and Arthur has no idea what’s going on. From Arthur’s point of view, they’re in a mostly equal relationship. Sure, Arthur abuses his power over Merlin in some ways by making him do ridiculous tasks or embarrass himself, but he also let’s Merlin get away with pretty much anything he wants and will cover for him in rougher situations. He is completely unaware that in addition to his near-relentless torment, Merlin is balancing a whole second life of magic and secrets and putting his life on the line for Arthur regularly.


In conclusion, the way that these two characters interact and how their relationship is viewed by others greatly impacts the choices they make and that those around them make. They are often shown making risky decisions to protect one another or because it’s something the other would do, and it’s because of this relationship that they grow as characters and the plot is able to play out the way it does. Arthur develops into a more caring, tolerant, accepting individual while Merlin becomes more confident in himself and his magic through helping Arthur. By the end of the series, Arthur is king and is working to make magic legal again to end the discrimination against sorcerers while Merlin is secretly tackling advanced magic in his spare time, always trying to improve so that he can keep himself and his friend alive.

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About Charlie Andrews

My name is Charlie, I'm 16, I'm a Junior in highschool, and I'm happy to be writing for GeekyKool!
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