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Essay/Term paper: Arthurian legend

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Political Science

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King Arthur and the knights of the round table belong to a long line of books and stories of the Arthurian legend. Merlin, Lancelot, The lady of the lake, King Arthur, and Excaliber are all very important in the Arthurian legend. In this essay we will talk about King Arthur, the knights of the round table, and Merlin in the famous story, The sword in the stone.

The Sword in the stone is a book about an adopted child named wart. He is of royal blood and does not know this. One day when Wart is in the forest, he finds a magician named Merlin. Merlin comes home with Wart and agrees with Sir Ector, Wart"s guardian, to become Wart"s tutor. Merlin goes about educating Wart by Transforming him into different animals. Through each transformation Wart experiences different forms of power, each being a part of how he should rule as king.

The first transformation takes Wart and Merlin into the castle"s moat as a fish. They then meet the largest fish in the moat, which is an alligator who is the ruler. The alligator takes what he wants because of his size. In a speech about power, he tells Wart that "Might is right," and might of the body is greater than might of the mind. Because of the way the alligator rules, his subjects obey him out of fear for their lives. Wart experiences this firsthand when the gator tells him to leave. He has grown bored of Wart, and if Wart does not leave he will eat him. The king uses his size as his claim to power, therefore his subjects follow him out of fear.

In Wart"s next transformation into a hawk, he soars into the castle"s mews. All the birds into the mews have a military rank. Their leader is an old falcon, who Sir Ector keeps just for show. The birds who rank below the falcon, hold her in the highest regard because of her old age. She applies her power over the other birds with no concern for their lives. In one instance, Wart is ordered to stand next to the cage of a crazy hawk who almost kills him. On the other hand, her seasoned age brings respect, since she had not been released once she outlived her usefulness as a hunter. This allows her to maintain a powerful grip over all the birds she rules through fear and respect.

In Wart"s next make over Wart is transformed into an ant and posted within an ant colony. There is a single leader of the ants, and she is the only thinking individual in the whole nest. All the ants are manipulated and overseen by her. Each ant and has specific task, which it completes repeatedly. The absolute power exerted by the leader destroys all individualism, leaving the ants with no creativity. Instead, they use trail and error to complete tasks that should take only a small amount of thought. Wart sees this occur when an ant tries with difficulty to organize three cadavers in a small burial chamber, when a small amount of reasoning would of solved the problem quickly. The ants are of a collective mind, so that what one thinks, they all think. They go about their daily lives oblivious to the control the leader has over them.

In the final transformation Wart visits the badger. The badger is a great philosopher who enjoys giving scholarly commentaries. 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. He lives a life of solitude because many other animals do not think at his level. They listen he is old and experienced, and with this comes respect.

Through each of his 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 gator. Unlike the falcon, a ruler should not retain power only because of age, and should rule with the subjects well-being in mind. One should not exert total control over one"s subjects, because they lose creativity and individualism. 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. Leaders must give great thought to making decisions related to their use of power, and use their experience. These decisions should be made without the help of others.

That"s what Merlin is trying to teach Wart, leadership. That"s also what Merlin teaches King Arthur. That"s why Merlin is so important to the stories of King Arthur. He teaches him how to lead and be a great king.

There has been a lot of material written about the legendary King Arthur and although he has been a popular figure in literature for over 800 years, not a lot is known about the real Arthur. It is believed that Arthur was a 5th-century British King named Riothamus (meaning "high King") who ruled from four hundred fifty-four to four hundred seventy A.D. And led an army into Gaul where he was defeated by the Goths of Burgundy. Two men by the names of Jordanes ( 6th century) and William (11th century) contributed to the legend of Arthur. Their input was perhaps the real basis of future adaptations of the story of Arthur. Arthur appeared in books as a national hero in a book written in Latin by Geoffrey of Monmouth called historia Regum Britanniae ( meaning History of the Kings of Britain). Supposedly his book covered history from 1200 B.C to 689 A.D. Geoffrey includes many sources of information with his work but most scholars believe it to be fictional bibliography added only to give his book some credibility. Therefore his work is considered to be literature not factual history. Geoffrey is the one responsible for the portrayal of Arthur as a great King who conquered the British Isles and much of Europe. Also introduced by Geoffrey is Queen Gwynevere, Merlin the Magician, information about Arthur"s strange birth and death, and the concept of chivalry. Due to Geoffrey"s books being so popular, Arthur"s like Robert Wace and Chretien de Troyes continued on with the development of King Arthur and his life adding, yet more detail and depth to the story. Robert Wace concentrated on the Arthurian aspect of the story while Chretien focused on the romantic part of King Arthur"s life. Some of the new elements added included the round table, courtly love and the love affair between Lancelot and Gwynevere, which ends up ruining Lancelot. In 1205 A.D. Layamon wrote the first English version of the King Arthur stories with a British perspective. Another version of the story was Morte Arthur. This version was centered around fighting and action destroying many of the characters parts, like Lancelot for instance. Perhaps the most widely accepted story of Arthur was written in 1485 by sir Thomas Malory. Malory combines aspects of Wace, Chretien, Geoffrey and Layamon, expands on Arthur"s court by adding short stories about some of Arthur"s most important Knights and writes of the collapse of the Round Table. And of the stories and Knights, the most known and talked about is of Sir Lancelot.

The Knights of the round table were noble in their actions. Sir Lancelot is a prime example of nobility of the round table. Throughout his life, Lancelot was unselfish, caring, and faithful to the knighthood. Lancelot is the greatest mounted warrior and was respected by all. The Knights of the Round table were noble and honorable people.

Sir Lancelot was a faithful Knight. He was dedicated to his work of adventure and helping the weak by his pledge to the knighthood. Many women throughout the kingdom loved Lancelot because of his courage. When people asked Lancelot why does he not have or want a wife? He would answer back, it would take away his focus on from his adventure and knightly duty. He would have to attend to his lady instead of entering tournaments and war, and riding in search of adventure. Although Lancelot has said these things, he has always had a interest in Queen Gwynevere, but he never fully pursued her.

Sir Lancelot proved he was not selfish in many ways throughout his story. After Lancelot defeated a king named Sir Tarquine, he resisted the idea of looting his castle for all of Sir Tarquine"s wealth. Lancelot killed many people because he was so good as a knight but never stole goods. If it was guards that had to be tooking care of then Lancelot would defeat them and give their riches to the people they had imprisoned.

Sir Lancelot proved he was a caring person in many ways throughout his life long story as a knight. Lancelot defended a woman who was being attacked by knight. Lancelot killed the man responsible for this thievery he said, for shame that a knight not withhold or respect his high calling. Lancelot also showed his dedication to his knighthood and his King when he was tempted to sleep with Gwynevere but didn"t sleep with her by riding out and looking for adventure to prevent anything bad happening disrespecting King Arthur and his knightly standards by sleeping with her.

Sir Lancelot is the best example of the loyalty of the Knights of the round Table in all of his actions. Lancelot did not let love get into any of his affairs and yet showed compassion and proved that he was not out to win personal gain. The Knights of the Round Table were noble in their actions.

That"s the story of how we know the story (or stories) today. King Arthur was raised and taught by the wise Magician named Merlin who has helped many kings before Arthur be great. Who created the Round Table and the Knights that sit around it and among those the famous Lancelot. Without Merlin there is no Arthur, without Arthur there is no Lancelot. So we now know that even though it"s called the Arthurian legend, all of them are big contributors to the legend.


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