The Once and Future King – Arthur’s Failure

“He was only a man who had meant well, who had been spurred along the course of thinking by an eccentric necromancer with a weakness for humanity. Justice had been his last attempt-to do absolutely nothing which was not just. But it had ended in failure” (White, OAFK 634). The “he” in this passage refers to King Arthur, the most important character in T.H. White’s The When and Future King and Book of Merlyn, who failed in his try to unite England due to the blunders produced by him and those close to him. Arthur, betrayed by those close to him, not correctly educated on the greedy, selfish, and violent heart of man, failed in his try to build a steady, progressive, and peaceful society.

To begin with, those close to Arthur made blunders that would lead to his eventual downfall. Merlyn’s forgetfulness kept him from informing Arthur of his mother’s name. “…but abruptly he remembered it in his sleep-the simplest thing! It was Arthur’s mother’s name which he had forgotten to mention in the confusion!” (White, OAFK 310). If Arthur had known the identity of his mother he would not have slept with his personal sister, “…but it appears, in tragedy, that innocence is not enough” (White, OAFK 312). This account with his sister produced Mordred, who, taught by his mother that revenge had to be taken, would be his father’s killer. Other people close to Arthur betrayed him as effectively. Gwenever’s selfishness and jealousy as nicely as Lancelot’s “evil steak” played an crucial part in the King’s downfall. They chose to sleep with each other behind the King’s back, understanding that the discovery of their affair would destroy his life’s work. If Gwen and Lance could have just come to the realization that they could not sleep every single other and still be loyal to their King, this tragedy would not have taken spot. Maybe Lance place it greatest when he stated “…your friend can hardly be your buddy if he is also going to be your betrayer” (White, OAFK 336).

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