Term papers writing service


Human desire and knowledge in th whites once and future king

To come together around the table of equality to discuss all aspects of Arthurian Fact and Fiction Monday, 4 May 2009 T. The Once and Future King T. It appeals to audiences of all ages and to readers on many different levels. Its use of humor and anachronistic references help ground the reader in the subject matter in a way that no one before or since has accomplished.

It was first published in 1958 and is mostly a composite of earlier works.

T.H. White, Lancelot, and Threesomes

The title comes from the supposed inscription of the marker over King Arthur's grave: White uses The Once and Future King as his own personal view of the ideal society. The book, most of which "takes place on the isle of Gramarye," chronicles the raising and education of King Arthur, his rule as a king, and the romance between his best knight Sir Lancelot and his Queen Guinevere which he spells Guenever.

It ends immediately before Arthur's final battle against his illegitimate soOne often quoted passage from the book is the story which the badger calls his "dissertation," a retelling of the Creation story from Genesis. Plot summary The story starts in the last years of the rule of king Uther Pendragon. The Sword in the Stone chronicles Arthur's raising by his foster father Sir Ector, his rivalry and friendship with his foster brother Kay, and his initial training by Merlyn, a wizard who lives through time backwards.

Merlyn, knowing the boy's destiny, teaches Arthur known as "Wart" what it means to be a good king by turning him into various kinds of animals: Each of the transformations is meant to teach Wart a lesson, which will prepare him for his future life. In fact, Merlyn instills in Arthur the concept that the only justifiable reason for war is to prevent another from going to war then, and that contemporary human governments and powerful people exemplify the worst aspects of the rule of Might.

The Queen of Air and Darkness, White sets the stage for Arthur's demise by introducing the Orkney clan and detailing Arthur's seduction by their mother, his half-sister Morgause. While the young king suppresses initial rebellions, Merlyn leads him to envision a means of harnessing potentially destructive Might for the cause of Right: The Candle in the Wind unites these narrative threads by telling how Mordred's hatred of his father and Agravaine's hatred of Sir Lancelot caused the eventual downfall of King Arthur, Queen Guenever, Sir Lancelot, and the entire ideal kingdom of Camelot.

Though White admits his book's source material is loosely derived from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur The Death of Arthurhe creates a personal reinterpretation of the epic events, filling them with renewed meaning for a world enduring the Second World War. The book begins as a quite light-hearted account of the young Arthur's adventures, Merlyn's incompetence at magic, and King Pellinore's interminable search for the Human desire and knowledge in th whites once and future king Beast.

  1. In the last book, The Candle in the Wind, Arthur becomes the main character again. Though it has been in print for less than half a century, it has already been declared a classic by many, and is often referred to as the "bible" of Arthurian legend.
  2. His recollection goes "back" to at least the mid nineteen-thirties, for he criticizes Arthur's enthusiasm for war with reference to Hitler.
  3. White also utilizes humor in the characterization of Merlyn.
  4. Knights moved in all-male cohorts, and in both White and Bradley the friendships of knights are referred to as love.
  5. The bastard uses the Lancelot-Guinevere affair to his advantage in breaking apart the Round Table.

Parts of The Sword in the Stone read almost as a parody of the traditional Arthurian legend by virtue of White's prose style, which relies heavily on anachronisms. However, the tale gradually becomes darker until Ill-Made Knight loses much of the original humor and The Candle in the Wind is mirthless. In the first book, The Sword in the Stone We see Arthur's education at the hands of Merlyn, a learned but frazzled character who is living backwards. Thus, he already knows what's going to happen; he strives, therefore, to impart on his subject the importance of doing right.

Arthur is here called the Wart, a nickname given him by his foster brother, Kay, son of Sir Ector, lord of a castle in the Forest Sauvage.

As a student of Merlyn, Wart encounters three different kinds of governmen ts--feudalism in his daily life with Ector, totalitarianism in his time as an ant, and anarchy in his time as a goose.

As always, Merlyn's point is that knowledge is power. One of the prime lessons of this education is that a goose or any winged animal can see beyond boundaries on land. In other words, a man's worth is not only based on how much land and property he has; also, a government is not nearly as important as its leader.

Wart's adventures continue with Merlyn and with Kay until the fateful day of the tourney, at which Wart pulls the Sword from the Stone. Arthur the King faces many troubles right away, including a strong claim from Lot, King of Orkney.

The sons of Orkney, Gawain foremost among them, cause no end of trouble for Arthur and Lancelot throughout the last three books. The Ill-Made Knight, the third book, is concerned mainly with Lanc elot, who is portrayed by White as being amazingly ugly though competent in arms. Despite this ugliness and probably because of this competenceGuinevere falls in love with him.

The book ends with their at-long-last tryst. In the last book, The Candle in the Wind, Arthur becomes the main character again.

His past comes back to haunt him as Mordred arrives in Camelot. The bastard uses the Lancelot-Guinevere affair to his advantage in breaking apart the Round Table.

The book ends with Arthur telling the story to a young man named Tom on the eve of the Battle of Camlann. Overall, the book has a different feel from other Arthurian tellings. These books have humor, chiefly in the form of Merlyn and of King Pellinore, whose efforts in hunting the Questing Beast and at fighting Sir Grummore Grummersom are shot through with gentle and broad humor.

Finally, there is the theme of war. White, a pacifist, fills his hero, Arthur, with a war-weariness and a determination to do what is right: He fends off challenges from Lot and from outsiders; he tries to keep his Round Table intact in the face of a serious challenge from Mordred and the sons of Orkney; he tries to keep h is kingdom intact by fighting for his very life against Mordred and his growing number of allies. He fights, fights, fights. His tone at the end of the fourth book, in the chat with young Tom, is one of acceptance of his fate.

However, even weighed down by the knowledge of certain death, he finds the strength to encourage young Tom to survive the battle and tell the story. Now, since The Once and Future King ends on the eve of the Battle of Camlann, the book has no mention of what eventually happened to Arthur. White wrote The Book of Merlyn to tell that story. Left out of the set by the publishers, this book was published in its own right several years later.

  • Before going forth, Arthur charges a young page Malory with keeping alive his legend and his ideals until a better day;
  • Overall, the book has a different feel from other Arthurian tellings;
  • There is no tirra-lirra for this knight, only introspection that deepens as the book hews inexorably toward tragedy;
  • However, he knows that Lancelot will rescue her, and Lancelot does indeed end up rescuing Guinevere and they escape to his castle together;
  • Though it has been in print for less than half a century, it has already been declared a classic by many, and is often referred to as the "bible" of Arthurian legend.

In it, Merlyn returns to Arthur and returns Arthur to happier days, when he visited the ants and geese and came face to face with the war-crazed ants and the happy-go-lucky geese. Buoyed by this return to the innocence of his youth, Arthur intends to ask Mordred for a truce. Echoing Malory, White has a snake cause the fateful, final battle. We see the end of Arthur and of Lancelot and Guinevere.

We see the end of an era. But we see the future, too, and it is filled with hope. This condemnation of the evils of war is a vast departure from the Welsh war songs that began the story of Arthur. As the 20th century winds down, we see many more departures from the common theme. Two of the greatest and most successful departures are written by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Mary Stewart.

Characterisation in the work Perhaps most striking about White's work is how he reinterprets the traditional Arthurian characters, often giving them motivations or traits more complex or even contradictory to those in earlier versions of the legend. Arthur is a well-intentioned king as trained by Merlyn, but it seems that his greatest flaw is his inability to adapt once Merlyn leaves him: He is also a sadist, a trait he represses, but which leads to bouts of self-loathing.

  • White also redevelops and expands the characters of the Arthurian legend, giving the novel more consistency and allowing his readers to relate to these characters;
  • That is chivalry nowadays;
  • By envisioning for Arthur's story an idealized century imagined from Malory's fifteenth century, White was opening the door wide for all kinds of anachronisms;
  • White, a pacifist, fills his hero, Arthur, with a war-weariness and a determination to do what is right;
  • When Merlyn and Wart are discussing knighthood, Wart expresses his desire to "encounter all the evil in the world...

He seeks to overcome his flaws through full devotion towards becoming Arthur's greatest knight Merlyn lives through time backwards, making him a bumbling yet wise old man who is getting younger It is also interesting to note that White allows Thomas Malory to have a cameo appearance towards the end of the final book. Also of note is White's treatment of historical characters and kings as mythological within this world that he creates.

In addition, due to his living backwards, Merlyn makes many anachronistic allusions to events in more recent times; of note are references to the Second World War, telegraphs, tanks, and "an Austrian who … plunged the civilized world into misery and chaos" i. Usage of Political Ideals Underscoring the story of Arthur's life, from his youth and education to the end of his reign, is a well thought out commentary on how mankind should govern itself, written in the context of the Second World War.

The political stand points are totalitarianism, communism, anarchy, and socialism. When Arthur first ascends to the throne, the country is ruled by what he calls Fort Mayne, or the rule of the strongest. The barons and nobles ride around the countryside doing whatever they wish--being unpleasant, exploitative, and sometimes murderous. Despite the ongoing question of whether humanity is naturally evil, through most of the book King Arthur is optimistic that there is a means to curb humanity's tendency toward violence and cruelty.

The Ill-Made Knight

The latter three parts of the book show the progression of his search for a solution. His first solution to the rule of power is to crush it with power "Might is Right". As a young king, he conquers rival barons in a war in which Arthur dispenses with gentlemanly protocols so as to force the barons to experience the horrors of war firsthand.

However, this is clearly not a permanent solution, but merely perpetuates the problem. His next move is to channel power into something worthy. He reinvents Chivalry, and forms the Round Table, making it a goal for his knights to use their Might to rescue maidens and right wrongs "Might for Right". However, this solution does not last for long. Once all the wrongs are righted, and England settles into a golden period of peace and lawfulness, the knights grow bored, and things at court start to go badly.

Pettiness and squabbling arise, and society stagnates. This is what Merlyn calls "Games-Mania": A better solution is needed. Arthur's next move is to seek the solution from outside the mundane world. He sends his knights on a human desire and knowledge in th whites once and future king for the Holy Grail — aiming their power toward God instead of toward worldly things "Might for God".

This, however, is a failure, too, because any knight who achieves the quest is perfect, and thus no longer suitable to live in an imperfect world. The other knights who fail are for a time positively affected by the quest Sir Lancelot in particularbut it does not take long for them to fall back into their old ways. In addition, many knights who fail the quest Gawaine feel humiliated by Lancelot and Galahad, and many good knights end up dying in the quest for the Grail.

Arthur's final solution as king is to formalise power: Instead of power being wielded by the knights, it now belongs to the state. An example of this would be the replacing of trial-by-battle with trial by jury.

This solution comes back to bite Arthur when the affair between Guinevere and Launcelot is exposed: However, he knows that Lancelot will rescue her, and Lancelot does indeed end up rescuing Guinevere and they escape to his castle together.

However, in the process he unintentionally kills the unarmed Gaheris and Gareth.

  • Arthur is here called the Wart, a nickname given him by his foster brother, Kay, son of Sir Ector, lord of a castle in the Forest Sauvage;
  • In addition, many knights who fail the quest Gawaine feel humiliated by Lancelot and Galahad, and many good knights end up dying in the quest for the Grail.

Almost everyone considered Gareth the "best" or most "knightly" of the Orkneys; he was knighted by Lancelot, and his brother Gawaine loved him.

When Lancelot kills Gareth and Gaheris while they are unarmed during the rescue of Guinevere, not recognising them in his fury, Gawaine flies into a rage and Arthur into deep depression.

  1. He fights, fights, fights. He fends off challenges from Lot and from outsiders; he tries to keep his Round Table intact in the face of a serious challenge from Mordred and the sons of Orkney; he tries to keep h is kingdom intact by fighting for his very life against Mordred and his growing number of allies.
  2. Arthur is taken to Merlyn's cave, where he meets many of his old friends from The Sword in the Stone — animals with whom he has spent time.
  3. However, in the process he unintentionally kills the unarmed Gaheris and Gareth.

Gawaine tells Arthur he has no choice but to go to war with Lancelot so Gawaine can extract vengeance. The book ends with Arthur, weary and aged, in his field pavilion on the eve of the final battle between his knights and Mordred's Thrashers. He reflects upon where he has gone wrong, and whether humans can ever learn to renounce violence. Before going forth, Arthur charges a young page Malory with keeping alive his legend and his ideals until a better day. This is where The Book of Merlyn fits in: Arthur is taken to Merlyn's cave, where he meets many of his old friends from The Sword in the Stone — animals with whom he has spent time.