The Arthurian Legend Remains Popular in Today’s Modern Audiences

Lynsey Nguyen

English Literature

Ruth Benander

4 December 2012

The Arthurian Legend in Modern Day Societies

Stories have always been a part of human nature. Stories are a human’s way of learning history or solely because the story is interesting. Most stories in modern day are for entertainment purposes. Even historic-like stories have been twisted with years of imagination to satisfy the particular listening audience. The legend of Arthur and his knights Sir Gawain and Sir Lancelot for example is a tale that has been told for so long even in modern day with romantic twists in some tales, with bravery emphasized in other tales, and different events occurring throughout all tales of King Arthur and his knights to fit the likes of the audience. The Arthurian Legend is still widely popular in modern day because the story contains elements humans can personally associate with such as love, loyalty, temptation, and bravery. These elements are what people have always been able to relate to. This tale contains these elements as well as the possibility of this tale being a part of real history, given the real live landmarks and castles. People in modern day find the tale fascinating that the possibility of this tale is not just a “fairy tale”.

The stories of King Arthur have a similar story of him being good against evil. He was a king who was not corrupt like the others. The stories emphasize his bravery. For example in the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, King Arthur was very first to step up to the challenge. Modern day audiences want to see action. Audiences gleam over someone who will perform an act of bravery, like an instant feel for respect because he is willing to put himself in a terrifying situation. This act is also associated with someone good who is going against all evil. In all tales about King Arthur, he is portrayed as a good king in world up corrupt kings. Modern day audiences thrive to see all evil defeated and the hero, King Arthur in this case succeed.

King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table are a big part of the legend. Sir Gawain and Sir Lancelot are most popular, because they too give the elements modern day audiences wish to see. In the tales of Sir Gawain, he succeeds to resist temptation. Audiences see events unravel with Sir Gawain and his temptation to betray the king and sleep with his wife. The anticipation of what Sir Gawain will choose to do is addicting. When Sir Gawain does not give in to temptation, he portrays a loyalty to the king. This trial Sir Gawain conquers feeds the audience, as modern day audiences want to see and hear characters earn their success.

Sir Lancelot succeeds as a popular knight in the Legend because of his betraying love for the king’s wife, and his strong act of bravery. In the story of Sir Lancelot, he is portrayed as this handsome man, who every girl wants to marry because of his adventurous personality and his brave-like actions, as well as being a chivalrous knight. The tales told about his adventures led him to save people captured by an evil knight. He is brave to accept jousting challenges and defeat all people trying to kill him during his adventurous journey. The most popular tale about Sir Lancelot that sticks with modern audiences is his love for the king’s wife, and his betrayal to the king. Audiences love a good love story, and with a twist of a betrayal, audiences cheer for the entertainment. The love triangle is something the audience cannot look away from. It’s a twisted romance that contains all feelings of love, temptation, and betrayal all in one.  Although this love triangle turns out tragic for the king, with Sir Lancelot’s boasting personality the audience still falls in his corner because of his multiple acts of bravery out weigh the betrayal of the king.

The Arthurian Legend has started to fade out in recent times, as audiences wish to see new characters develop with different story lines. Naturally, people tend to get bored of hearing the same story over again. Since the Legend of King Arthur has been around for a long time now, the story is somewhat “old news”. Audiences today want to see what is new, want to hear new story lines, and new adventures that are more in line with recent times. There are no knights walking around anymore so it’s hard to relate as a modern audience. But the Arthurian Legend has not completely died. Even in new books and movies there is always a character like how King Arthur, Sir Gawain, and Sir Lancelot are described. Every story today has a form of all elements this Legend contains. This is also why there are so many versions of the Legend, so each story can fit the audience listening.

The story of King Arthur has been around for a very long time. The Arthurian Legend is still widely popular in modern day because the story contains elements humans can personally associate with such as love, loyalty, temptation, and bravery. Audiences can relate to all of these, whether they can relate to personal experiences or the story is feeding one’s imagination. Although it may seem like the Arthurian Legend has disappeared, modern day books and movies all contain the same elements this Legend has. Those things are all things an audience looks for, and what will keep the story popular. Even with twists and turns and differences to each story told, the Arthurian Legend will always remain popular.

1 Response to The Arthurian Legend Remains Popular in Today’s Modern Audiences

  1. benander says:

    I think you are right that the Arthurian legends are not as popular now as they have been, even back in the 20th century. It will be interesting to see if they can continue to adapt and if we will get them back again when everybody is tired of the Marvel Universe.

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