How does the concept of the Fisher King apply to The Natural? 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The concept of the Arthurian Fisher King can be seen in The Naturalin a couple of distinct ways.  One of the most direct is through Pop Fisher.  The long- suffering leader of the Knights, Pop Fisher is sick and wishes to guide his team back to the World Series.  He wishes to return to the World Series so that he can right a wrong, which is Arthurian in nature.  At the same time, like the Fisher King, his health is a reflection of the "kingdom."  When the team does well, his health is fine and when he becomes ill, the kingdom, his team, suffers. Each victory ensures the kingdom is closer to realizing its goal, while each loss puts it farther away from the ideal.  Pop Fisher's "Holy Grail" can be seen as guiding his team towards success, treating a return to the World Series on the same level as the romantic pursuit and defense of the Grail.  In this light, one can see Pop Fisher as an example of the Arthurian Fisher King.

Examining the concept of the Fisher King in light of Roy Hobbs can reveal some other connections.  "Suffering from wounds, the Fisher King depends for his healing on the successful completion of the hero's task."  This would be one way to describe Hobbs himself.  Wishing to be "the best there ever was in the game," Hobbs embodies the Fisher King with the wound he suffers from Harriet Bird, struggling to accomplish his task.  The "healing" that he must endure is both physical and psychological, as he struggles both from the mechanical standpoint as well as from the subjective point of view in resisting temptation.  Hobbs as the Fisher King embodies the struggle that the wounded leader must endure in order to defend his kingdom and embody that which is good in conditions that seek to take away from the nobility of his quest.   

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