Analysis Of Terence Hanbury White's The Once And Future King

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Arthurian legend, with its round table, wizard, unfaithful queen, gallant knight, vengeful son, and well-intentioned king, has long been retold. While most authors employed the legend as a tapestry to depict religious themes, The Once and Future King uniquely utilizes the tale to provide a political critique of the author’s modern day society. Terence Hanbury White embraced Malory’s version by creating four sequential books eventually published together under the title The Once and Future King. Shifting away from the heavily Christian-oriented tale, White uses the story of King Arthur as platform to express his opinions on his own world during the mid-1900’s. Focusing on the increasingly divided, violent attitudes of his generation, White imposes an alternative vision of the utility of war. As he converges on and diverges from pacifistic sentiment, White’s first book, The Sword and the Stone and fourth book, The Candle in the Wind illustrate political critique of both old and new society. The golden lines of The Sword in the Stone and The Candle in the Wind earn their status from the way they encapsulate the predominant pacifistic theme through symbolism. When young Arthur lives among geese, he notices sentries keeping watch, and confused of their purpose, he asks a goose by the name of Lyo-Lyok if they are preparing for war amongst their flock. The disgusted goose responds, “But what creature could be so low as to go about in bands, to murder others of its own blood?”

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