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Analysis of King Arthur in the Mythology and Rituals from the British Isles and Northern Europe

Updated on February 24, 2015

King Arthur is a popular character not only in Europe, but worldwide. However, his identity has remained a mystery for long. Attempts of identifying the mystical character have been unfruitful all along. The hub portrays two perspectives in the portrayal of Arthur King in different contexts.


In the novel, “The Once and Future King” White (1958) portrays King Arthur as a slightly timid and conscientious boy who eventually becomes the King of England after being mentored by one, Merlyn. In this book, Arthur is regarded as a hero who believes in moral uprightness and in doing justice. However, his belief in good makes him unable to see the intrigues that surround him. Upon becoming the King of England, his ideas, which are depicted in the novel as being “great”, are considered as having reshaped the English society to a large extent. The title of the novel itself presents a promise that despite the death of King Arthur, he remains to be the ruler of England.

However, contrary to my earlier perception and the portrayal in “The Once and Future King”, there are also other accounts that have portrayed King Arthur in another perspective. A good example is the story of the Green Knight and Sir Gawain by Neilson (1999) where Arthur’s character is depicted as being far from being a hero. Rather, Arthur is shown as being helpless and weak, who is not even capable of defending himself when confronted by Gromer and he needs the help of Sir Gawain. In this book, the king is shown behaving like a small child, since upon seeing something great, he is unable to eat or sit still. In one of the feasts that he attends and which is identified as Chretien's Yvain, Aurthur cannot stay away after feasting, an act that causes anxiety in the courtroom and a portrayal of his childlike characters.


Literature portrays King Arthur has an ever changing and unique character, who takes a different perspective in each work.


Neilson W.A (translator) (1999).Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, Ontario, Midde English

Series, Cambridge

White T.H, (1958).The Once and Future King, New York : Putnam,


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