The stories of our past have a way of staying with us throughout time. This can come in the form of retellings of the story in its original form or in the form of adaptations. One story that has persisted in our collective memory throughout time is that of King Arthur, Camelot, and the Knights of the Round Table. From the time Sir Thomas Mallory collected them in Le Morte d’Arthur in the 1400’s, there have been countless retellings in the form of books, poems, television series, and movies. One particular retelling of the Arthurian stories in the BBC drama Merlin which aired from 2008 – 2012. This particular adaptation sees Merlin and Arthur as young men in the time leading up to Arthur being crowned king.
By comparing the television show to Mallory’s texts, I will examine the ways in which the two represent themes of chivalry and class structure. In order to do this, I will first examine the nature of adaptations in general and a brief history of Arthurian adaptations. Then, I examine the ways that both Le Morte d’Arthur and Merlin present these themes by looking in depth at specific characters and tales from each. In addition to exploring the themes of chivalry and class structure, I look at the ways that the time period in which each version was created informed the manner of presentation.