Once And Future King

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade September 2001

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A lot of what a person learns comes by living his everyday life. This knowledge can be gained through different situations or different people involved in an experience. Unfortunately, these experiences aren't always good ones. In fact, the novel The Once and Future King by T.H. White illustrates that knowledge can be gained throughout one's lifetime, whether it is gained through good or atrocious experiences.

As a youth, Arthur learns how different animals function by being turned into them rather than by studying them. First of all, Merlyn turns the Wart into a fish because he begs to be turned into one (p.45). The Wart learns not to abuse the power given to him after the King of the Moat talks to him about power (p.52). Next, the Wart gets turned into a goose by Merlyn (p. 165). Wart learns that killing the same group of animals is considered horrible and shouldn't even be thought of, even if they are enemies (p.

170). Lastly, Wart gets turned into a badger (p. 184). He learns that one cannot always have power when the hedgehog curls up so Wart cannot hurt him (p.186). The Wart learned about power in these situations and used the lessons learned to help him while he was king.

Arthur gains knowledge about how to be a good leader through the experiences he must rule over. He learns that might isn't right but can be used to achieve right after talking to Merlyn (p.248). Arthur realizes that war causes pain. He realizes this when he thinks about all the pain the fighting with Mordred and his mother has brought him (p. 614). Arthur also learns about trusting others in the story. He can't trust Mordred in the story because Mordred wants to be the king so he tries killing his own father, Arthur. These experiences are ones that Arthur must live through, and he gains knowledge through them even though they aren't good experiences.

The mistakes that Arthur makes while he is king also contribute to the knowledge he gains. Lancelot sleeps with Guenever a few times and Arthur knows it, but he tries to ignore it (p.372). This causes conflict because Guenever is Arthur's wife but she is cheating on him with Lancelot. This is a mistake by Arthur because he could have said something to Guenever or Lancelot about it but chose not to. At the end of the story, Arthur tells Guenever and Lancelot that he ordered all the infants to be killed when Mordred was going to be born so that the prophecies about Mordred wouldn't come true (p.523). He could have killed Mordred at this time but didn't, and Arthur would eventually die by Mordred's army. Fighting broke out between the knights in Camelot a few times and Arthur didn't stop them. Mordred killed Sir Lamorack for sleeping with Morgause(p.429). Lancelot kills Sir Meliagrance because Meliagrance accused Guenever of sleeping with one of the knights guarding her chamber(p.508). These mistakes that Arthur makes were crucial to the downfall of Camelot and he realized at the end of the story that he didn't make the best decisions.

I have gained knowledge myself from experiences I have encountered. One experience that really sticks out is when I got robbed in Portugal. This was a very scary experience unfortunately, but it was a good one in my opinion. My friend and I were walking back to our hotel after getting food from a near gas station. Three people came up to us and robbed us of our money. We were lucky we didn't get hurt, but this experience really opened my eyes about noticing when something like that could happen. I never thought that it would happen, even though we were warned previously, until it actually did. This experience changed the way I think because I now know that anything can happen in this world.

In conclusion, experiences can help anybody gain knowledge. I thought that The Once and Future King was a good story teaching morals. I think it could relate to topics happening in the world today with all the violence and sex issues. I realized how the book and life today are similar and that made the book more interesting for me. This book had lessons in it that everyone can use in their life.