I'm doing a favorite character post today. I'm tired out from book release stuff, work, teaching, headaches, and not having much writing time even though I really want to write my books, so I'm not thinking of a whole lot of post topics. Plus Merlin makes me happy, though we're coming down to the end and I hate the end.
My favorite character in Merlin is Prince/King Arthur. I love saying that as I show someone the first episode. Arthur starts out as such an arrogant brat. He's so inconsiderate, he only thinks of himself, he's rude, he's domineering...but underneath, he has a good heart. It's in the first season actually that he first defies his father and risks his life to save Merlin, even though Uther insists that Arthur's life is worth more than that of a servant. Arthur is very insistent throughout the show that he is not of more value than his people.
Arthur grows up so much throughout the show. It's such a gradual change that you almost don't notice until you're at the end and start looking back. He goes through so much.
He fights with his father when his father is trying to get him to do something wrong. This happens increasingly as Arthur matures and becomes more sensitive to his people...and starts spending more time around Gwen and Merlin. Yet he still respects his father. He still loves him. He still wants to make him proud. And I love how Arthur can stay strong for the truth while still trying to be a dutiful son. It's a hard balance, but he does his best.
Arthur goes through heartbreak when he loses his father. (We were all so ready for Uther to die, but it's still sad for Arthur's sake—and it isn't a spoiler because it's King Arthur legends, not King Uther legends, so obviously his father has to die.) He goes through betrayal when he realizes his uncle Agravaine has been working against him and trying to destroy his kingdom (also not a spoiler because you see in his first episode that he's working with the main villain). You see Arthur go through betrayal again when Guinevere/Lancelot happens (again not a spoiler because if you know anything about Arthurian legend, then duh...what's a spoiler is how they handle it in the show). And it matures him. It helps him become the king he's meant to be. It makes him more loyal and dedicated to his people. It refines his discernment of right and wrong and strengthens his resolve to always do what's right. It displays his enormous capacity for forgiveness and forgetting others' wrongs. It turns him into a true leader.
I love how by seasons 4 and 5, Arthur regularly owns up to his mistakes and is willing to take the consequences. If he did something wrong—either recently or in the past—he owns up to it and insists on making it right himself. I love how much more sensitive he is to Merlin. Sure, he still picks on him from time to time, like any good brother, but he notices when something's bothering Merlin and asks him about it. When he's having trouble making a decision, he asks for Merlin's advice. Yes, the king's manservant, trusted advisor, and best friend are all the same person. I love how devoted he is to Gwen, despite all that happened between them. How he trusts her judgment without even questioning it.
I love watching the character arc. It's very well done, and as a writer I appreciate it. But what I love most is the king Arthur becomes. A king who is a true leader. A king who always tries to do what's right, even if it means admitting he made a mistake. A king who is honest and loyal, even though he's been betrayed many times over. A king who is willing to lay down his life for his people. And a king who's also quite hilarious at times.