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Once And Future King By White Essay, Research Paper
Experience is Everything In the book, The Once and Future King, T.H. White shows
the importance that education relies heavily upon ones own personal experiences.
When Merlyn is called on to tutor Wart, an adopted child, he uses this exact
learning method on Wart. Merlyn, who is a magician, uses transformation as a his
learning tool. Merlyn turns Wart into different animals to show Wart lessons of
life. Through each transformation Wart experiences different forms of power,
each being a part of how he should rule as king. When Wart experiences each of
these different stages of lesson he finds out from Mr. P that mind power is
nothing, from the wild goose he learns freedom, and the badger teaches him to
accept what you have. When Wart is transformed into a fish Merlyn takes him to
go talk to the master of the moat, Mr. P. This is the first transformation that
Wart will learn his first lesson in. When Wart approaches Mr. P he already
senses a great deal of danger because of his massive size and strength. Wart was
so flabbergasted by his enormous structure that he could not think of anything
to ask Mr. P. Then Mr. P replies with his view on life, a simple statement,
?There is only power. Power is of the individual mind, but the mind?s power
is not enough? (52). Mr. P is showing the importance of physical power over
the minds with this comment he makes . What Mr. P states astonishes Wart so much
that Wart becomes speechless and does not move from where he is positioned. As
Mr. P teaches his theories of life he becomes very agitated with Wart and
Pronounces, ?I think you ought to go away really almost at once in case my
disillusioned mouth should suddenly determine to introduce you to my gills,
which have teeth too? (52). As Wart is listening to Mr. P say this he is
stunned by the words he is saying to him. Wart is astonished that Mr. P is
thinking about eating him. At this instance Wart has enough time to turn around
and swim away just in the nick-of-time to escape from Mr. P. Another one of
Wart?s transformation places him in a flock of geese. These geese are a peace
loving race that never kill. Wart learns all about being a geese from other
geese. Wart learns most of his lessons from a goose named Lyo-lyok. Wart and
Lyo-lyok talk about how the geese communicate and most everything about geese.
When Wart asks, ?Are we fighting people?? (169). Wart and Lyo-lyok get in an
argument. Lyo-lyok refuses to listen to Warts explanation to his question.
Lyo-lyok did not understand Wart?s point of view. Once Wart explains to
Lyo-lyok his situation, she then helps Wart in his understanding of the goose.
Wart learns that there is one leader to a group who is called The Admiral. He
guides them on their flight south for the winter. The Admiral receives his
position because of his knowledge of the southern migration route. He is only
elected if all the geese in the migration group agree he is capable of doing the
job. During the flight the geese obey his choices, since he is their elected
leader. But his power ends once they are back on the ground, where he is only
looked upon as a respected elder. Lyo-lyok teaches Wart about this and tells
him, ?this is how Great-uncle became an admiral? (171). Through out Wart
experiences as a goose he learns alot about why the geese are not a group that
fights within their species. Lyo-lyok tells Wart that the only reason humans
fight amounts each other is that we set boundaries and that is what causes
fighting. In the final transformation Wart visits the badger. The badger is a
great philosopher who enjoys giving scholarly commentaries, this is why Merlyn
wants this to be Warts last transformation. Merlyn explains that, ?except for
Archimedes, he is the most learned creature I know. You will like him? (183).
While Wart is visiting him, he explains a story he has written on the creation
of the animal kingdom?s hierarchy. In his commentary he explains how man
answered God?s riddle and is awarded control over the animal kingdom. The
Badger explains to Wart, in his view, that God created embryos and that the
embryos had a chance to pick out three different characteristics to change about
themselves. When man approaches God he states, ?I think that You made me in
the shape which I now have for reasons best known to Yourself, and that would be
rude to change? (192). This, God explains is a riddle which Man has solved. In
this lesson Wart learns that some things are better off being left alone than
being changed. Through each of the transformations, Wart sees different uses of
power. Wart must choose how he will eventually govern his kingdom. The leaders
he visits, govern in their own way, each retaining their power through different
methods. When these are combined, the following picture of how a leader should
or should not rule emerges: A leader should not attempt to rule his or her
people through might and fear, as does the fish-king. A democratically elected
leader, whom subjects have faith in his or her ability to get a job done, and
who has the required skills will complete the task at hand, as do the geese.
Leaders must give great thought to making decisions related to their use of
power, and use their experience, like the Badger. Also like the Badger, these
decisions should be made without the help of others, and therefore may lead to
solitude. T. H. White is therefore similar to Merlin in trying to teach us about
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