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Analytical Paper On The Tragic Figure Of Lancelot In T.H White's "Once And Future King"

1834 words - 7 pages

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...

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