King Arthur essay


The legend of King Arthur originates in medieval times, but it has been told throughout history and is still told today. Because of its long existence the stories of King Arthur have dramatically changed along with their themes. Both The Passing of King Arthur from Morte D'Arthur and The Once and Future King use similar technical elements to support their themes. The most prominent elements are tone, character, and plot.

The two stories have drastically different tones. In Morte D'Arthur the tone is somber. King Arthur is in his dying moments and he asks his trusted knight, Sir Bedivere, to destroy his sword, Excalibur, which gives him all of his power and proved his right to the throne. Sir Bedivere betrays his master, which contributes to the tone of the story. Arthur speaks in disappointment and despair, he is dying and his knights will not fulfill his last request. When Sir Bedivere finally completes his master's wishes Arthur is able to leave and rest in peace and Sir Bedivere stays to guard his grave in loyalty. The important message conveyed by the somber tone and the betrayal of Sir Bedivere is the theme of the importance of loyalty. The story has a dark tone because King Arthur is being betrayed. In The Once and Future King the tone is not somber but hopeful. King Arthur has hope for the future of his people even if he is not their king. The King asks the page to stay away from the war and keep something far more important than the kingdom from harm, the page is meant to protect the ideals of King Arthur's court. The theme of this story is the importance of beliefs and ideals over material things like land and the importance of the future even at the expense of the present. Although The Once and Future King is a far simpler story, its theme is much more powerful and more obvious.

Another tool, besides tone, that is used to convey the theme in the stories is Character. Characters and plots work together to create the themes in the story. In Morte D'Arthur the characters are rigid and archaic and the blot is of betrayal. The betrayal by the seemingly classical characters is an important juxtaposition of what is expected and what actually happens to create contrast and make the theme more evident. Sir Bedivere is not loyal to his king; he lies to him to protect something that is far less important than loyalty, Excalibur. This obvious mistake is an important way to illustrate the theme of the important of loyalty. It clearly shows that loyalty is not about the person that you are being loyal to but the ideals that they represent. In The Once and Future King, Arthur knows that his ideals of his court are far more important than any material part of the kingdom. The page is not named until the end of the story to give him a universal feeling. Because the page is not named he could be anyone showing that everyone should be loyal and hope for the future. The ideals of the kingdom are entrusted to the page before he is named to show the importance of loyalty. In the end the stories have similar themes, but The Once and Future King has a much stronger theme of protecting ideals while Morte D'Arthur focuses on the importance of loyalty.

All stories use technical elements to support thematic ones. Both of the stories of King Arthur, Morte D'Arthur and The Once and Future King, use the technical elements of tone, character, and plot. Both stories have powerful themes of loyalty, but The Once and Future King expresses hope for the future and the importance of ideals making it the more importantly themed of the two stories. Tone along with the plot and characters illustrate the themes of the stories clearly through the sound of the author's words and the actions that the characters take throughout the stories.

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