A Thread Throughout The Once And Future King English Literature Essay

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According to T.H. White's The Once and Future King, "Love is a pretty strong passion, when you come to think of it". (White pg. 230) Many types of love are depicted throughout the book. In the Middle Ages, men and women were overwhelmed by love and all of its earthly forms and variations. (Melani par. 4) One can learn from love, hate love, and be hurt by love. In the Middle Ages, there were three different types of love and those are shown as a thread in The Once and Future King. There is love without marriage which includes materialistic love and odd loves of nature and creatures; there is love of a hero or friend, and love after marriage that wasn't there before but developed afterwards. Love without marriage is shown by Pellinore's love for the Questing Beast and Elaine's love for Lancelot though he didn't return that same love to her. Lancelot, or the Ill-made Knight, loves Arthur and honors him and also loves his Uncle Dap. Love after marriage develops from Arthur and his wife and Queen Guinevere, but her love only ends up being as if he was a father figure for her.

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Love without marriage can also be observed by Uther and Egraine. He loved her and wanted her for himself. He went about his ways in order to rid himself of her husband so that he could have her. He loved her so much he would kill to have her, and he did.

Another love that hurt is when Pellinore develops a love for the Questing Beast as if he couldn't live without it. He thrives on chasing the beast throughout the whole book. The love he feels for this beast is not exactly that of a lover but as a long time friend and companion. Pellinore doesn't know what to do with himself when he thinks the beast will perish.

Love hurts, and can cause someone to do things they shouldn't. The Orkneys loved their mother, but she was selfish and only loved herself. "Eventually one of the other sons had cut her head off in a storm of jealousy, on discovering her in bed at the age of seventy with a young man called Sir Lamorak." (White pg. 398) Her sons loved her and wanted that love to be returned, but since she didn't give them any love back, they felt cheated.

Love of a creature is also shown by the Orkney brothers. "All three of them loved the unicorn in their various ways, Agravaine in the most twisted one, and, in proportion as they became responsible for spoiling its beauty, so they began to hate it for their guilt." (White pg.200) They had killed the unicorn and realized its beauty and felt hurt by love of that beauty and the fact that they had killed it. "Gawaine particularly began to hate the body. He hated it for being dead, for having been beautiful, for making him feel a beast." (White pg.200) He had felt bad for killing the unicorn and wished that he hadn't helped to do so. "He had loved it and helped to trap it, so now there was nothing to be done except to vent his shame and hatred of himself upon the corpse. "(White pg.200) Love is also accompanied by hatred. There cannot be love without hate.

Another love shown without marriage is that of materialistic love. In the Middle Ages, heroes and characters love their materials and pride on what they have. Wart, later on King Arthur, says to Merlyn "Oh I love the mustard pot!" (White pg. 23) He falls in love with Merlyn's magic, and ends up being overwhelmed with all of the adventures he can endure by using that magic. He ends up priding himself in the knowledge he acquires from those adventures. Wart ends up loving all of the creatures he meets, except the ants. He did not like the way they served and did their duty.

Also, another love in the book is the love of a hero or friend. Wart loves the idea of knighthood. He loves Merlyn, his teacher, as if he were a father figure. His friends also love him though. "They loomed round the church wall, the lovers and helpers of the Wart…but all, down to the smallest shrew mouse, had come on an account on love." This quote shows that his friends had love him and were there to help Wart become the great King Arthur. Without the love of his friends, he would not have been able to have the physicality and mentality to remove the sword from the stone. Love of friends is a powerful feeling.

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With love of a friend being a powerful feeling, so is the love of a hero. Lancelot loves Arthur with such passion. He admires the King and wants to be a knight at Arthur's round table. "He was in love with him. That was why he had been swinging the poises. He had been remembering all the words of the only conversation which he had held with his hero." (White pg. 245) Lancelot worshiped and admired King Arthur. He was trying to be good enough for the king which made him the best Knight at the Round Table.

In the beginning, Wart wanted to be a knight. He wanted the jousting and the whole works and treated Kay as a hero. As like in the medieval time period, Wart said, "I shall have a lady-love though so that I can wear her favour in my helm, and do deeds in her honour." (White pg. 42)In this time period, men loved to have a love and to go on quests and prove themselves for their lady. "In the world of Arthur, a knight is not truly complete unless he combines martial prowess," (Rasmussen par. 10) which means a knight is not the noble knight that he should be, "with a commitment to a transcendent emotional engagement with one person, his lady." (Rasmussen par. 10) He should be able to do things for his lady as well for his king. (Rasmussen par. 10)

Another love shown is the one between Arthur and his wife Guinevere. Their love was after marriage. He loved her, and she loved him, but only as a father figure. Their marriage was an arranged one and he was older than she. She didn't love him with the passion that she had loved Lancelot, but she didn't want to hurt him. Lancelot loving both his King and Queen was torn, as Arthur was torn and couldn't do anything about Lancelot's and Guinevere's love. Arthur loved his friend, and didn't want his wife to burn at the stake. In the end though he ends up doing just that, but Lancelot comes to rescue her from her death. Like the quote from Merlyn, "Ah, well people will do a lot for love", even if it means creating a war or not stopping an affair. (White pg. 225)

There are many different kinds of love throughout The Once and Future King. There is love without marriage, love of a friend or hero, and love after marriage; all of which are different loves depicted throughout the Middle Ages. Whether it is love of another or love of a creature, Lancelot's love for Arthur, or Guinevere's love of Arthur as a father figure, there are so many different loves shown throughout. We look at love a totally different way today than the medieval time period, but love will always remain a universal part of our lives. (Barenboy par. 1) "Love is a pretty strong passion, when you come to think of it." (White pg 230)