Once And Future King Analytical Paper
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Once And Future King: Analytical Paper
Once And Future King: Analytical Paper
Sir Lancelot's intense desire to perform heroic deeds was brought on by his
lack of confidence and insecurity. His childhood was spent in seclusion,
training for a job desired only to escape the hellish life that his hideous face
would otherwise hold in store for him. Lancelot's adulthood was spent trying to
overcompensate for this ugliness by performing Herculean feats and good deeds.
And the twilight years of his life were spent in remorse for the bad things he
had done. Although held up to almost godlike stature in T.H. White's novel The
Once And Future King, Lancelot was truly the most human character of them all.
Lancelot's childhood was spent sequestered, training to be a knight in
order to escape from his ugliness and give him something to be proud of.
Lancelot wanted to be a knight because he felt that he was a depraved,
lubricious soul. His hideously twisted visage was a sure sign to him that deep
in his inner self he was an evil person. Night and day he brooded over his
ugliness, his malfeasance. “The boy thought that there was something wrong with
him. All through his life - even when he was a great man with the world at his
feet - he was to feel this gap: something at the bottom of his heart of which he
was aware, and ashamed, but which he did not understand.”(p.315) As a result of
this fear of himself, Lancelot trained to become a knight. The knighthood, a
bastion of chivalry and nobleness, would be the only way to counter his immoral
soul. Secondly, Lancelot lived a baneful existence as a boy. He was kept away
from all the other children and spent his every waking hour with a fiery old man
in a single room, learning to fight, joust, and fence. This may seem extreme to
some, but for Lancelot, it was all he had. “Three years may seem a long time
for a boy to spend in one room,...unless you realize from the start that...this
rather sullen and unsatisfactory child, with the ugly face, did not disclose to
anybody that he was living on dreams and prayers.”(p.320) While this single-
minded seclusion would make him a great knight, it also kept him alone. He had
no childhood friends, nobody to relate to, nobody to tell him that he was a good
person. Consequently, his misgivings about himself took a firm root. Finally,
Lancelot was filled with terrible, hateful thoughts toward himself and his face.
The only job he could succeed in would be the knighthood, a profession in which
a man is measured not by his looks, but by his strength. He was clinging to the
dream that he would be able to become the best of them all and conquer his fears.
Lancelot worked for a goal that he had to attain in order to prove to himself
that he was not impure. He wished to become a heroic miracle worker. “He
supported himself mainly on daydreams. He wanted to be the best knight in the
world..., and he wanted one other thing which was still possible in those days.
He wanted, through his purity and excellence, to be able to perform an ordinary
miracle...”(p.323) Lancelot had to prove to himself that he was not evil. He
knew that only the pure of heart could work miracles. If he could be pure and
work miracles, then he would know that any inherent evilness he might have had
would be taken away, and he would have nothing to be insecure about. In
conclusion, Lancelot's childhood was a seedbed for his wretched self-image, but
also a seedbed for his skills. Indeed, if he had not been so unconfident, he
would not have worked as hard as he did, because the only reason he wanted to be
a knight was to show that he was more than just a repugnant, vile-looking ape.
Although his body grew since his childhood days, the adult Lancelot was
still concerned with trying to overcompensate for his feelings of insecurity.
When he became an adult, Lancelot did indeed become a great knight. He was the
strongest in the land, and the noblest. Yet he still thought that he had not
done enough. He was still trying to overcompensate. He tried to be the best,
and tried almost too hard. From childhood, he had worked toward this goal. “'I
had spent all my childhood, when I might have been chasing butterflies, learning
to be your best
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Knights of the Round Table, Holy Grail, Lancelot, Mental illness in fiction, Gareth, Guinevere, Gaheris, The Once and Future King, The Ill-Made Knight, The Candle in the Wind
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