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Persuasive Essay

The Once & Future King, A Modern King Arthur

          A story as famous as King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is bound to have copycats and newer versions. This author, however, chose to satirize and input mild humor into the story’s plot. Author, T. H. White, was a novelist, a satirist, and a local social historian who was famous for his brilliant adaptation to "Arthurian" novels. In 1958, the omnibus Once and Future King appeared ("England Have My Bones"). A compilation of the three previous books plus an unpublished fourth, The Candle in the Wind, became a bestseller ("England Have My Bones). The book was adapted for the stage as Camelot in 1960 and was followed by the film Camelot in 1967 ("England Have My Bones"). The Sword in the Stone, another adaptation, was a Walt Disney film in 1963 ("The Once and Future King by T..H. White"). T. H. White was greatly influenced to writing this novel after the many years in his life hearing this story from many generations in the past, but White introduces his own flair of writing and modernizes the time in which he writes the setting; while this is a brilliant novel, some readers were not interested in the fact that the traditional way of sharing the "Arthurian" tales was butchered with satire.

          Revisit our memories from your earlier ages, and find the stories you have heard about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. These stories took place during a time where kings and queens ruled kingdoms that spread over a span of land that was unimaginable of how they have built a wall to protect the people. For T.H. White’s series of his version of the "Arthurian" tales, it was about a quest that Lancelot undertook in order to be a knight in King Arthur’s circle ("T.H. White: The Once and Future King"). This book, published in 1965, gives what is probably the most sympathetic portrayal of Lancelot that anyone has ever found. He is introduced as the ill-framed knight; a phenomenally ugly, young boy whose only dream is to become a great warrior in the court of King Arthur. To that end, he lives in his father's armory, learning the ways of chivalry and knighthood from an acknowledged master named Dap. White makes Lancelot a man who has earned his powers as a knight through hard work instead of them being simply granted to him. Rather then waltzing into Arthur’s court and wooing Guenivere with his good looks, she falls in love with him in spite of his face. Also, Lancelot is always critical of himself. He continually sees a flaw inside. His belief that he is ill-framed combine with a constant awareness of his perceived imperfection makes him a more sympathetic character. In many tales, Lancelot’s perfection removes him from the sphere of humanity, and, hence, removing readers’ ability to like him. White paints a different picture of a very human Lancelot, which is much more accessible and a pleasure to read.

          T.H. White introduced a modern version of the story of King Arthur with adding a flair of satire and mild humor so that his audience can imagine themselves in King Arthur’s time. A source from T.H. White’s official website has quoted that, "It is the contemporary tone in The Once and Future King which gives the novel its present day feeling" ("T.H. White’s Twist on a Timeless Tale"). An example of anachronism can be found during a discussion between Merlyn and Wart, when Merlyn exclaims, "Castor and Pollux blow me to Bermuda!" ("T.H. White’s Twist on a Timeless Tale"). 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. Throughout the plot, White uses anachronism, a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other, as a device to aid the reader in association with the context. White slipped in moral satire, targeting the nobles in particular, in order for people of the modern day to realize discrimination is foolish. A critique found in a newspaper from Europe which praises White states that, "White said…that humor was put in to make the moral and philosophical pill- which, in all conscience, is a fairly bitter one- slide down more easily" ("T. H. White’s Twist on a Timeless Tale"). The addition of new themes, anachronism, characters such as Pellinore, and new adventures gives the novel a unique flair without straying too far from the traditional legend. White had great knowledge of medieval customs, and his adaptation brought Britain's traditional saga King Arthur to audiences around the world (White, T.H.). "T.H. White's masterful retelling of the Arthurian legend is an abiding classic. The Once and Future King, contains four books about the early life of King Arthur" ("An Omnibus of Novels by T.H. White").

          Every writer has found some inspiration somewhere before they have even struck gold with an idea of a story; they turn to a muse or even a past event to start creating a story that will enrapture readers. T.H. White had looked back in his life to the stories he once heard as a young boy growing up in Bombay, India. Even there, the Arthurian legend carried on and was passed through generations. White had grown up a writer and had been an English major in college before he was able to be seen as a, not only an author, but also a local social historian ("Terence Hanbury White (1906-1964)"). Being recognized as a social historian has put an advantage on how his book became very successful because he knew about society and the immoral justices not taking place. White is able to teach readers about discrimination and the effects in society upon taking advantage over a person just because they are not as affluent as you are. He then afterward, after college and creating his first real success, devoted himself exclusively to writing and to studying such obscure objects such as the Arthurian legends.

          If you can go far back into your memory when you first heard the legend of King Arthur, you probably thought it was all just fantasy and no real meaning behind the stories. But as writers over time have developed methods of translating the story in their own ways, you can find the moral values found in the tales. The Arthurian times were tough and very biased if people did not have money or a respectable title and that is what held Arthur from being king for some time. T.H. White added a contemporary attitude in his version and added techniques, such as anachronism, which assisted readers in being able to connect with the characters and place themselves in the setting. What provoked White into writing his translation was the effect of the stories back in his childhood and his fascination of the Arthurian legends in general. T.H. White was able to give readers an insight of what he thought the King Arthur tales were trying to tell us by interjecting a modern voice and using humor and satire.

          For the research paper, the students were supposed to choose a fiction that had a historical background. For the paper I chose The Once and Future King because I grew up very interested with stories from the Aurthurian times and I highly enjoyed reading these stories over and over again. The assignment demanded that we research the book and we would form our own thesis for the essay and complete the essay like a regular essay, but the research paper would have to include a summary of the story. I learned where the story of King Arthur came from and how old it was and where it was derived from. I liked the fact that we did research, I really enjoy researching topics, but mostly it consists of medicine. I did not like the fact that we had to do a strict MLA format on this. I am not just saying this because I did not get my 20 points yet, but I think it is way too demanding of us and people already get the point we are trying to get across when we write the essay, why does it have to be exactly within the MLA format? In the future I will do the same that I did but just include more detail into the essay and I will promise to strictly abide by the MLA format.

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