King Arthur

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Présentez la notion « Mythes et héros » à partir du travail fait en classe pendant l’année.

Les clés du sujet

La problématique choisie

Dans le corrigé, nous aborderons la notion « Mythes et héros » à travers la problématique du mythe arthurien. L’objectif sera de montrer comment le mythe du roi Arthur s’est élaboré à travers les âges jusqu’à nos jours, et ce que cela dit des sociétés qui ont eu recours à ce mythe.

Les idées principales

Le mythe arthurien a traversé les siècles. Arthur lui-même aurait vécu au vie siècle mais ce sont des écrits du Moyen Âge qui retracent ses exploits. Puis le mythe connaît une renaissance au xixe siècle en Angleterre, notamment à travers la peinture, puis aux xxe et xxie siècles, grâce au cinéma.

Si personne n’a pu encore prouver l’existence d’Arthur, la dimension magique et chevaleresque de la légende arthurienne continue de faire rêver.

Les documents évoqués

À certains des documents est associé un mini-lien pour faciliter sa recherche.

Une page du site de la BBC sur l’histoire du roi Arthur :­_ a

Un tableau de John Waterhouse : The Lady of Shalott (1888).

Plusieurs films inspirés par la légende arthurienne, notamment :

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (T. Gilliam and T. Jones, 1975) 

Excalibur (J. Boorman, 1981) 

King Arthur (A. Fuqua, 2004).




[Présentation de la thématique choisie] King Arthur is a hero whose stories we still hear about. He embodies all the values one might expect of a hero: courage, strength, bravery… But his actual existence has never been proven.

[Lien avec la notion] That’s why he belongs to the two categories, being both a hero and a myth.

[Problématique] I am going to present the history of King Arthur through the ages, since the 6th century until today, and show how the use of the myth of King Arthur reflects the period of the Arthurian revival.

[Plan] I will therefore begin in the Middle Ages, continue in the 19th century with the Pre-Raphaelite revival, and finish with nowadays.

1. The Middle Ages


a knight : un chevalier

• to praise :
faire l’éloge de

Arthur is supposed to have lived in the 6th century. Yet, nothing was written about his feats until the 11th century. Chrétien de Troyes wrote Yvain: The Knight of the Lion and Perceval: The Story of the Grail in the 12th century three centuries later, in England, Thomas Malory wrote Le Morte d’Arthur.

Why did the myth emerge centuries after Arthur’s supposed life Some think that the Middle Ages were so chaotic and in need of hierarchy, that the myth was used to encourage people to submit to order and praise noble values such as piety and the defence of women and the poor.

2. 19th-century revival

After being forgotten, there was a revival of the myth in the 19th century, with the Pre-Raphaelites, who felt nostalgia for the Middle Ages. John Water­house, for instance, painted many works inspired by the Arthurian myth, such as The Lady of Shalott.


a factory : une usine

At a time of massive industrialisation in England, the Pre-Raphaelite movement rejected the modern world of factories and pollution, and found refuge in the art and legends of the past.

3. Nowadays


outdated : démodé

faithful : fidèle

to echo : faire écho

We may think that the myth of Arthur has become outdated, but actually it has been a source of inspiration for many films and series, each focusing on a different aspect of the legend.

The Monty Pythons made a parody to make fun of the legend, while John Boorman’s Excalibur is supposed to be a faithful transcription of Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. King Arthur (2004) aims at representing what things were really like, and indeed shows a 6th-century castle for the first time! It means that the legend is still speaking to us and echoes in today’s world.



a modern-day hero : un héros moderne

To conclude, the myth of King Arthur is not outdated. He may be considered a modern-day hero, especially as the Knights of the Round Table are not perfect: There are betrayals, adultery, etc. which make the story universal.


Voici les questions que l’examinateur pourrait poser lors de l’entretien.

Which character of the myth do you prefer


a character : un personnage

It may be surprising, but I think I prefer Morgan le Fay. Perhaps because she is a witch. In the stories written in the Middle Ages, she was really a nasty woman. But she can really be an interesting character in some modern film versions.

What is your favourite film, in the list you mentioned


the setting : le décor

soppy : mièvre

The Monty Pythons made me laugh, it’s really funny, but the film itself looks really old-fashioned. So it’s not my favourite. I didn’t like First Knight very much either. I think the setting is too extravagant, and the love story between Lancelot and Guinevere… It’s too soppy. So by elimination, I’d say, King Arthur, the one of 2004. I haven’t seen the other ones.

Do you think we still need heroes


a role model : un modèle

to identify with : s’identifier à

depressing : déprimant

I suppose it depends on the person. Personally, I don’t, even if there are some people I admire. At the same time, I guess what we need is a role model, someone we can identify with. And we need to believe in noble values, because the world we live in is sometimes depressing. But I sound very pessimistic.