The Once and Future King Study Guide

The Once and Future King Study Guide

Original title:
The Once and Future King

If you think that nothing new can be said about King Arthur, try this book by T. H. White. More than six thousand pages are dedicated to carefully dismantling everything you knew before about the King Arthur and his knights and rebuilding this knowledge in the new, unusual but brilliant shape.

To fully understand the book, we should know the time when it was written - right after the World War II - and the personal experience of the author, traumatized by the war as much as many, many of his readers. The Once and Future King follows the general plotline of the ancient legend - but the way it is presented shows us the picture that is much closer to us in time. This book tells us a legendary tale - but it also warns us about the temptations and corruption that the ultimate power brings. Young Arthur, as the King, has to carefully balance between the usage of violence and his benevolent intentions, gradually understanding that one can’t stay overly good in politics, but it is too easy to slip to the side of unnecessary evil.

The book tells us about different political systems. The allegories of Arthur turning into different creatures and studying their way of life show us the virtues and flaws of different governments and the people’s attitude to them. At the beginning of his reign, Arthur thinks that he has chosen the best of them and his own, human government, will be flawless, unlike the animal ones - but he has yet to learn that the people are as much imperfect and tending to go the easiest ways. The bright and noble idea, gradually distorting and turning into the living hell, the atrocities of war that overcome any good goal this war was started to achieve - all that in the book serves only one idea: to help the author move on from his own war experience by quietly resisting the Nazis by his writing. This book is a warning to every knight with noble intentions to be careful with their ideas and not let them (and their own personalities) become distorted with the power or the influence of not-so-noble people.

New Essays

Summary of The Once and Future King

In "The Once and Future King," T. H. White writes in a way that is apposed to war and violence. The novel maintains an anti-war perspective, which is contrary to the traditional Arthurian beliefs. White was a conscientious objector during WWII, the period when he wrote the majority of this novel...

Plot Summary Once and Future King

In book one of “The Once and Future King” we are introduced to a young character named Wart; a foster child who is left in the care of Sir Ector. Kay, Ector’s son, is being trained in the ways of knighthood to one day take over his father’s throne. Wart found many ways to keep him entertained as...

Once and Future King: Self Reliance

Self-reliance is defined as reliance on oneself or one’s powers, resources, etc. according to dictionary. com. In T. H White’s The Once and Future King, Merlyn teaches Arthur to be more self-reliant. Self-reliance is a prominent theme in the novel because it helps Arthur to become king at the end...

The Once and Future King Essay

Plot Summary Young "Wart" is the adopted son of a minor nobleman when he meets Merlyn, a kindly magician, who takes him on many adventures, turning him into several different animals and teaching him skills, both mental and physical. Wart is very happy and learns to treat people with respect and...

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